'China will never seek hegemony': Xi Jinping assures ASEAN leaders amid rising tensions over SCS

President Xi made these remarks at the virtual meeting held on Monday between China and ASEAN members commemorating the 30th Anniversary of relations between the sides. China said that it would never seek hegemony nor take advantage of the smaller South Asian countries and instead would like to work with the 10 country bloc to eliminate interference.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday told the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)  that Beijing will not seek dominance over the smaller neighbouring countries and neither will they 'bully' any regional neighbours amid the rising tension over the South China Sea (SCS).

President Xi made these remarks at the virtual meeting held on Monday between China and ASEAN members commemorating the 30th Anniversary of relations between the sides.

China said that it would never seek hegemony nor take advantage of the smaller South Asian countries and instead would like to work with the 10 country bloc to eliminate interference.

“We need to pursue dialogue instead of confrontation, build partnerships instead of alliances. China firmly opposes hegemonism and power politics. China will never seek hegemony, still less bully smaller countries,” Xi Jinping was quoted as saying by Chinese official media.

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“China was, is, and will always be a good neighbour, a good friend, and a good partner of ASEAN,” he added.

President Xi also announced a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and said, “...a new milestone in the history of our relations and will inject new impetus into peace, stability, prosperity, and development of our region and the world”.

“China supports Asean’s efforts to build a nuclear-weapons-free zone and is prepared to sign the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone as soon as possible,” Xi said.
 
China's growing dominance over the SCS has alarmed several nations like the US, Japan, and other regional neighbours including ASEAN members Philippines and Vietnam.

The special summit chaired by the Chinese President takes place days after China had blocked two Philippine boats that were carrying supplies for the troops situated at a disputed South China Sea shoal.  

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reacted sharply on the clash at the SCS and said that he abhors the recent altercation. He also said that the rule of law was the only way out of problems.

“We abhor the recent event. This does not speak well of the relations between our nations,” Duterte said.

Xi also told the ASEAN countries that China is ready to provide aid worth  $1.5 billion in the next three years to support the countries and help them fight against Covid-19.

The 10 member ASEAN group comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The summit was held without representatives from Myanmar.

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Earlier in October, President Joe Biden also conducted a virtual meeting with the ASEAN members and pledged that the US would be engaging in the matter of the disputed waters. The superpower nation has constantly pushed back China's growing military influence over the SCS.