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China downplays India-ASEAN summit, presence of top leaders at R-Day

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Beijing, Jan 25: China today reacted guardedly to India hosting top ASEAN leaders on the country’s 69th Republic Day and hoped that all countries can work jointly to maintain peace, stability and the development of the region.

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India is holding a two-day India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in New Delhi which is expected to give boost to the cooperation in key areas of counter-terrorism, security and connectivity amidst increasing Chinese economic and military assertiveness in the region.

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In an unprecedented event, all the 10 ASEAN leaders will also be the chief guests at the Republic Day parade.

“We hope all countries can work together for peace, stability and development of the region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing when asked about the gathering of ASEAN leaders to attend the Republic Day function.

“We can all play a constructive role in this regard,” she said criticising media reports that the Indian move to invite these leaders was aimed at blunting China’s influence.

“I want to say that on the Indian side, India media is not very confident and they do not trust us,” she said.

China is involved in maritime disputes with some of the ASEAN countries in the South and East China Seas. Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea and has also laid claims on the Senkaku islands under the control of Japan in the East China Sea, believed to hold vast natural resources below their seabed.

The highest-level of participation at the summit is to mark the 25 years of Indo-ASEAN ties.

The 10 ASEAN leaders attending the summit are: Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Thailand Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, President of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Lao PDR’s Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Malaysian Prime Minister Nazib Razak, Brunei Darussalam’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.

PTI

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