In the aftermath of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unannounced visit to Taiwan, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday warned that tensions over the island could trigger “open conflicts” and “unpredictable consequences”. As China has kickstarted full-scale, five-day military drills encircling Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit, ASEAN Foreign Ministers, who are meeting in Cambodia for the 55th summit, issued a statement raising concerns over the “regional volatility”.

ASEAN’s statement on such issues is considered a rare occurrence and remarkably, some of the members of the 10-nation group are aligned with China and others with the US. The group’s foreign ministers are meeting in Phnom Penh and on Thursday, they are rigid against any “provocative action” following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. ASEAN said that they were concerned that the situation involving the US, Taiwan and China could “destabilize the region and eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers.”

The statement also read, “ASEAN is concerned with the international and regional volatility, especially in the recent development in the area adjacent with the ASEAN region, which could destabilize the region and eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers” adding that it “calls for maximum restraint, refrain from provocative action.”

The international calls for restraint around Taiwan Strait came as China bolstered its military might after warning that the US would “pay the price” for Pelosi becoming the first House Speaker to visit the island, which is claimed by Beijing as its own territory.

While Pelosi received a euphoric welcome to Taiwan, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, Global Times unveiled a video showing the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theater Command sending advanced warplanes to exercise combat takeoffs from different airports and conduct missions in different airspace. The army organised joint drills featuring its Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, Strategic Support Force & Joint Logistic Support Force in the sea and air space encircling Taiwan island.

Amid heightened tensions, ASEAN said, “The world is in dire need of wisdom and responsibility of all leaders to uphold multilateralism and partnership, cooperation, peaceful-coexistence and healthy competition for our shared goals of peace, stability, security and inclusive and sustainable development.”

They added, “We should act together and ASEAN stands ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful dialogue between all parties including through utilizing ASEAN-led mechanisms to de-escalate tension, to safeguard peace, security and development in our region.”

China warns US will ‘pay price for hurting Beijing’

Meanwhile, as miffed Beijing continues to issue back-to-back condemnations of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday warned that Washington would now bear the “consequences”. Defying all such threats by China, Pelosi became the first US House Speaker to visit the self-ruled democratic island since 1997, stoking fresh tensions between both nations.

During the high-stakes trip, while Pelosi reiterated America’s commitment to protecting Taiwan’s security and sovereignty, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the motive behind Washington’s measure was not about democracy. The Chinese diplomat also reiterated that Pelosi’s visit was a clear provocation to China’s integrity and declared that the United States “will be held liable and pay the price for hurting” Beijing.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “The nature of her [US Speaker Nancy Pelosi]visit to the Taiwan region is not about democracy. This is an issue about China’s sovereignty & territorial integrity.”

Image: AP