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Iran Press TV

Pompeo urges ASEAN to cut ties with Chinese companies

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 10 September 2020 8:33 AM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on Southeast Asian nations to sever ties with Chinese companies that he claims help build islands in the disputed South China Sea.

The remarks by the US' top diplomat came on Thursday during an online summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"Don't just speak up, but act," he told the 10 foreign ministers of the ASEAN. "Reconsider business dealings with the very state-owned companies that bully ASEAN coastal states in the South China Sea."

"Don't let the Chinese Communist Party walk over us and our people. You should have confidence and the American will be here in friendship to help you," he added.

The summit was held at the time of simmering tensions between the US and China over a range of issues from trade to the coronavirus and to the dispute over the South China Sea.

Last month, the US blacklisted governmental and commercial organizations for allegedly helping procure items for the Chinese military buildup in the resource-rich waterway.

The US commerce department said then the blacklisted companies would be subject to sanctions which restrict their access to American technology and the purchase of US-related goods.

The South China Sea is a gateway to major sea routes, through which about 3.4 trillion dollars' worth of trade passes each year. China claims sovereignty over much of the strategic waterway and has since 2014 built artificial islands on reefs and installed military bases on them.

Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims with China to parts of the sea.

The Philippines, however, said last week it would not follow the US lead because it needed Chinese investment.

The United States, which sides with Beijing's rivals in the maritime dispute, routinely sends warships and warplanes to the South China Sea to assert what it calls its right to freedom of navigation, ratcheting up tensions among the regional countries.

China has constantly warned the US against its military activities in the sea, saying that potential close military encounters between the air and naval forces of the two countries in the region could trigger accidents.

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