ASEAN IN FOCUS

Indonesia, US troops hold live-fire drill as China tensions mount

Baturaja, Indonesia | AFP | Thousands of troops from Indonesia, the United States and allies held a live-fire drill Friday as part of what a top US general said was Washington’s efforts to prevent a regional conflict after China’s “destabilising actions” around Taiwan. The United States and its Asian allies have expressed growing concern about China’s increasing assertiveness in the Pacific, but Washington said the drills were not aimed at any nation even though they […]

Australian economist pleads not guilty at Myanmar junta trial: source

Yangon, Myanmar | AFP | An Australian economist detained by Myanmar’s junta has pleaded not guilty to breaching the colonial-era official secrets act, a source close to the case said on Friday. Sean Turnell was working as an adviser to Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi when he was detained shortly after the coup that ousted her government in February last year. On trial in a secretive junta court that journalists cannot access, he […]

Sri Lankan ex-leader arrives in Bangkok after fleeing protests

Bangkok, Thailand | AFP | Former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday arrived in Bangkok after his visa ran out following a month-long stint in Singapore where he had taken refuge from protesters at home. The deposed leader landed on a private jet at Don Mueang International Airport around 8pm local time (1200 GMT), a senior Thai official said. He left the airport’s VIP section around 40 minutes later with his wife and got […]

Blinken hails ‘strong’ US-Philippine alliance in talks with Marcos

  by Allison JACKSON Agence France Presse US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr Saturday in a bid to bolster the countries’ “strong” alliance, as China conducts military drills around Taiwan. Blinken is the most senior US official to visit the Philippines — a treaty-bound ally of the United States — since Marcos took office. “The alliance is strong and I believe can grow even stronger,” Blinken told Marcos […]

Analyst weighs in on Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and its impact on ASEAN

Foreign policy & security analyst Lucio Blanco Pitlo weighs in on the recent visit of US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan and its impact on ASEAN, specifically the Philippines.   Factors like the Philippines’ proximity to Taiwan, our large OFW population, our trade & investment relations with China, our mutual defense agreements with the US entangle us in this potential diplomatic & geopolitical powderkeg.

ASEAN condemns lack of Myanmar peace progress

  by Rose Troup Buchanan and Lisa Martin Agence France-Presse PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP) — Southeast Asian ministers Friday condemned the lack of progress on a crisis resolution plan for coup-hit Myanmar, demanding the junta take action before a regional summit later this year. Myanmar has been in chaos since a putsch in February last year, and the death toll from the military’s brutal crackdown on dissent has passed 2,100, according to a local monitoring […]

Myanmar junta charges Japanese journalist with encouraging dissent

Yangon, Myanmar | AFP A Japanese journalist detained in Myanmar has been charged with breaching immigration law and encouraging dissent against the military, the ruling junta said Thursday. Myanmar’s military has clamped down on press freedoms since its coup last year, arresting reporters and photographers as well as revoking broadcasting licences as the country plunged into chaos. Toru Kubota, who was held while covering a protest in Yangon last week, “has been charged under section […]

ASEAN ministers warn Taiwan tensions could spark ‘open conflicts’

  by Lisa Martin and Rose Troup Buchanan Agence France Presse PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Southeast Asian foreign ministers urged restraint Thursday as China launched massive military drills off Taiwan, warning the situation risked spiralling into “open conflicts”. A furious Beijing kicked off its biggest-ever exercises around Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit this week to the self-ruled island. Ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in […]

Pelosi Taiwan visit set to dominate ASEAN meet

  by Rose Troup Buchanan and Lisa Martin Agence France Presse PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP) — Southeast Asian foreign ministers will seek ways to help quell the diplomatic storm over Taiwan at regional talks Wednesday, after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived on the island, enraging Beijing. Pelosi’s dramatic late-night flight to Taipei, defying threats of reprisals by China, looks set to dominate the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom […]

ASEAN says Myanmar executions ‘highly reprehensible’

Phnom Penh, Cambodia | AFP Myanmar’s execution of four prisoners, including a former member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, is “highly reprehensible,” said the chair of a regional bloc leading diplomatic efforts to resolve the post-coup crisis. Cambodia, which currently heads the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the bloc was “extremely troubled and deeply saddened” by the executions — Myanmar’s first in decades. In a statement issued Tuesday, it accused the junta […]

Executed Myanmar prisoners deserved ‘many death sentences’: junta spokesman

Yangon, Myanmar | AFP The four prisoners Myanmar’s junta executed in the first cases of capital punishment in the country in decades “deserved many death sentences”, a military spokesman said on Tuesday. “If we compare their sentence with other death penalty cases, they have committed crimes for which they should have been given death sentences many times,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said at a regular press briefing. The executions announced on Monday sparked widespread […]

ASEAN says Myanmar executions ‘highly reprehensible’

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP) — Myanmar’s execution of four prisoners, including a former member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, is “highly reprehensible,” said the chair of a regional bloc leading diplomatic efforts to resolve the post-coup crisis. Cambodia, which currently heads the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the bloc was “extremely troubled and deeply saddened” by the executions — Myanmar’s first in decades. In a statement issued Tuesday, it accused the junta […]