Asean summit opens with South China Sea, Covid-19 and US-China tensions high on the agenda

Asean summit opens with South China Sea, Covid-19 and US-China tensions high on the agenda

Southeast Asian leaders kicked off a multilateral summit on Thursday expected to address tensions in the South China Sea and tackle plans for a post-pandemic economic recovery in a region where US-China rivalry has been rising.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has so far not been “drawn into the maelstroms” of those rivalries and challenges to the international multilateral system, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in his opening remarks at the 37th Asean Summit in Hanoi.

“Three quarters of a century have passed since the end of the World War II. World peace and security, however, are not yet truly sustainable,” said Phuc, whose government holds the chairmanship of the 10-member bloc in 2020.

“This year, they are particularly under greater threat as a result of compounding risks arising from the unpredictable conduct of states, major power rivalries and frictions.”