China pleased Asean ‘adopted a non-interference policy towards Myanmar’

Kristin Huang
·3-min read

China hopes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations can provide a stabilising influence in Myanmar, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Singaporean counterpart on Wednesday.

Wang met Vivian Balakrishnan in Nanping, southeast China’s Fujian province, where the two men also discussed a range of other issues, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking about the situation in Myanmar, where security forces killed more than 100 protesters on Saturday, Wang said: “China hopes that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations can play a positive role in promoting the stability of Myanmar.”

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A statement issued by China’s foreign ministry said Wang told Balakrishnan Beijing was pleased Asean had “adopted a non-interference policy towards Myanmar’s internal affairs”.

After the military coup in Myanmar in February, Asean foreign ministers held online talks last month to discuss how to respond. While the group has not issued a statement on the issue, Balakrishnan was quoted as saying at the time that the 10-nation bloc, of which both Singapore and Myanmar are members, was “appalled by the use of lethal force against civilians”.

During his meeting with Wang, Balakrishnan described the situation in Myanmar as “very troubling”, according to a report by Channel News Asia (CNA).

Wang also said China and Singapore should seek to maintain high-level exchanges and communication, oppose “vaccine nationalism” and work together on the long-term challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic so as to “send a positive signal of commitment to peace and development to the world”.

Balakrishnan did not mention vaccine nationalism but said Singapore was looking at ways to reopen travel links. Beijing made no mention of such travel arrangements.

“Now, in a post-Covid recovery phase, we are looking at how – as both Singapore and China reopen their economies – we can slowly, gradually and carefully resume travel links,” Balakrishnan was quoted as saying by CNA.

While he and Wang “discussed mutual recognition of [Covid-19] health certificates”, Balakrishnan said “there will need to be verifiable, authorised sources of this information … [to] facilitate safe travel for all people concerned”.

Zhang Mingliang, a Southeast Asian affairs expert at Jinan University in Guangzhou, said China and Singapore had different views on some issues.

“China has a good performance in handling the coronavirus pandemic, which is not widely recognised and accepted by the international community. If the Singapore government can side with China, it might help ameliorate the unfriendly situation China is faced with,” he said.

Wang is expected to meet the foreign ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines in Fujian over the coming days.

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