ASEAN foreign ministers retracted the statement they issued earlier in reference to China, where they said continued actions in the highly disputed area in the South China Sea could potentially threaten security and stability in the region.
On Tuesday, the foreign minister of China has invited all foreign ministers from ASEAN states for a meeting in Kunming, China. On the same day and inside China’s own backyard, the foreign ministers reportedly told the AFP in a communiqué they issued earlier that recent activity in the South China Sea could undermine peace in the region, the AFP reported via Daily Mail.
Although in the earlier statement, the ministers did not mention China, it was indirectly an official statement that was directed to the nation that has become more active in making its presence felt in the area over the past months.
Hours after the report has been issued, the Malaysian foreign minister stepped up and belied the earlier pronouncement that they allegedly issued. The Malaysian side said it had to issue a recall as they saw the need for ‘amendments’ on its earlier statement.
Meanwhile, Lu Kang, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Minister said the earlier report from AFP with the earlier statement of the ASEAN foreign ministers involving South China Sea tensions was not an official statement and there was no official document issued to that effect.
ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is composed of countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Although it’s not unusual for the alliance to issue a communiqué on a given issue that affects the region, what’s peculiar with the recent alleged statement was, it was issued right on the same day of the meeting and inside the bailiwick of China, a country that has an intensified presence and claiming a large portion of the maritime zone.
As Reported by The Diplomat, it’s highly likely that the foreign ministers faced a pressure from China upon the issuance of the statement as it would appear like a slap in their face to hear such pronouncements against it’s stance on South China Sea right inside their own backyard.