US Keeps China out of Indo-Pacific with $300 Million Master Stroke

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha shakes hands and her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a Singapore meeting on Aug. 2 2018

The navy drills were carrying China's cooperation with Southeast Asia to a new level, its top government diplomat, Wang Yi, said on Thursday.

At a meeting of foreign ministers in Singapore on Thursday, Beijing and ASEAN announced they had agreed on the negotiating text for the code.

The Chinese government's top diplomat, state councillor Wang Yi, told reporters at the same forum that China welcomed, and was willing to work with, the U.S. to help with faster development and better security in the region.

It is another significant progress on the negotiations of COC, Wang noted.

The United States will press Southeast Asian leaders to maintain sanctions on Pyongyang following reports of renewed activity at the North Korean factory that produced the country's first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States. "I believe that the negotiation on COC can be speeded up if we exclude external interference", he said.

Thailand, one of Washington's oldest allies, is another major regional power perceived to have moved closer to China after US relations came under strain because of concerns about freedoms under its military-dominated government.

In Singapore, an East Asia Summit foreign ministers' meeting, including ASEAN members and eight non-ASEAN partners, was held later Saturday.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha shakes hands with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Singapore talks on Aug. 2 2018
South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha shakes hands with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Singapore talks on Aug. 2 2018

From the economic point of view, the total investment between China and Asean totaled until the end of May over 200 billion dollars, of which Chinese enterprises injected 86 billion 500 million dollars in the nations of Southeast Asia, according to official data.

The suggestion to exclude outside countries "is obviously targeted at the U.S., which has been dominating the waters of the Western Pacific and the South China Sea in particular", Hoang Thi Ha, from the Asean Studies Center, ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, told AFP.

"The visit provided a great opportunity for both Malaysia and the United States of America to discuss a wide range of bilateral, regional and worldwide issues of mutual interest", Wisma Putra said in a statement.

Vietnam, for one, has been vocal in expressing concerns over China's transformation of seven disputed reefs into man-made islands, including three with runways, which now resemble small cities armed with weapons systems.

"This table-top exercise has been a good first step for navies from ASEAN countries and China to work together to deal with maritime incidents at sea", said Colonel Lim Yu Chuan, a senior Singapore naval officer and exercise co-director.

The ASEAN ministers also welcomed rapprochement between North Korea and South Korea and the US and reaffirmed their commitment "to combat the scourge of violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism".

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