Washington DC [US], July 14 (ANI): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has underscored ASEAN's essential role in the Indo-Pacific's regional architecture and highlighted the US' rejection of unlawful maritime claims of Beijing in the South China Sea.
This comes as Blinken's met with foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Secretary-General during the Special ASEAN-US Foreign Ministerial Meeting.
"The Secretary reaffirmed the United States' commitment to ASEAN centrality and underscored ASEAN's essential role in the Indo-Pacific's regional architecture. The Secretary and the ASEAN foreign ministers pledged to continue building the ASEAN-US strategic partnership based on human rights and fundamental freedoms, economic prosperity, and strong people-to-people ties," US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Wednesday.
The state department said that Blinken stressed the US commitment to working with ASEAN and international partners to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. He also emphasized the importance of taking bold action to address the climate crisis.
"The Secretary underscored the United States' rejection of the PRC's unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea and reiterated that the United States stands with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of PRC coercion," the statement added.
Blinken's rejection of China's maritime claim comes a day after China on Monday protested the remarks made by the US State Secretary, reaffirming that Beijing's South China Sea (SCS) maritime claims are unlawful.
Blinken, on the fifth anniversary of an international ruling concerning SCS, had said nowhere is the rules-based maritime order under greater threat than in the South China Sea.
Earlier, Blinken had said China continues to coerce and intimidate Southeast Asian coastal states, threatening freedom of navigation in this critical global throughway.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. (ANI)