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Biden vows to support Southeast Asia in defense of freedom of the seas and democracy

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Oct 27 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the United States will stand alongside its Southeast Asian allies in defending the freedom of the seas, democracy and human rights, and endorsed the efforts. to hold the Myanmar junta accountable for its commitments to peace.

Southeast Asia has become a strategic battleground between the United States and China, which controls most of the South China Sea and has increased military and political pressure on Taiwan, an island with a democratic government that considers part of his territory.

Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed at a virtual regional summit on Wednesday to establish a “comprehensive strategic partnership”, a sign of Canberra’s ambition to play a greater role in the region.

Biden joined Southeast Asian leaders in reprimanding the Myanmar junta as the summit opened on Tuesday without a representative from the country following the exclusion of its top general for ignoring peace proposals.

“In Myanmar, we must address the tragedy caused by the military coup that is increasingly undermining regional stability,” Biden said Wednesday.

Biden also said the United States was deeply concerned about “China’s coercive and proactive actions” in the Taiwan Strait, a waterway linking the island to the mainland.

Tension between Taiwan and China has intensified in recent weeks as Beijing increases military and political pressure.

China has never renounced the use of force to ensure eventual unification with Taiwan.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the summit that maintaining peace, stability, freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea was in everyone’s interest.

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