China hosted an online event for foreign ministers from ten ASEAN (The Association of South-East Nations) countries, which ends today. According to Wang Wenbin, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the held meeting marks the 30th anniversary of the relation between China and the ASEAN nations.
The event aimed at deepening economic cooperation through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP) deal. As announced in the meeting, Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, will also conduct several bilateral meetings with visiting ministers and chair a Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) meeting with Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The panel also included discussions around a vaccine passport valid in China and the ASEAN countries.
The meeting held in Beijing focused on aligning COVID-19 recovery efforts and promoting economic recovery, intending to push back against QUAD’s recent regional outreach. The meet was also an attempt at nullifying the US’ efforts to dilute China’s influence over the South-Asian regions.
Many Chinese analysts believe that the meeting with the ASEAN nations is a crucial event for China. After the QUAD leaders’ summit in March, China was riveted by the possibility of QUAD influencing the Southeast Asia region since it holds importance in the US Indo-Pacific Strategy. Another aspect of substantial significance was the ongoing disputes between China and the Philippines regarding the presence of Chinese vessels near a disputed reef. Through the meeting, China addressed the issue and sought solutions.
Beijing recently termed the QUAD as “an Asian NATO”, which was criticized by the members of the group, including India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. He termed the move as a “mind game which people are playing.” China’s defence minister termed QUAD a “military alliance” and urged Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to reject them.