China responded to US House speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan by announcing multiple military exercises nearby (Picture: Jack Sullivan/Alamy Stock Photo).
USA

South-east Asian countries concerned US visit to Taiwan could 'open conflicts' amid China tensions

The 10-nation group said it was concerned the situation could lead to "unpredictable consequences among major powers".

China responded to US House speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan by announcing multiple military exercises nearby (Picture: Jack Sullivan/Alamy Stock Photo).

A group of 10 south-east Asian countries has called for calm in the Taiwan Strait and urged against any "provocative action" in the wake of a visit to Taipei by US House speaker Nancy Pelosi that has infuriated Beijing.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) foreign ministers meeting in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh said they were concerned the situation could "destabilise the region".

They added it "eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers".

It was a rare such statement from the 10-nation group, some of whose members drift more toward China in allegiance and some toward the United States.

Both US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi were taking part in the ongoing Asean meetings in Phnom Penh on Thursday and Friday.

Watch: China conducts live-firing drills near Taiwan.

Ms Pelosi received a euphoric welcome as the first US House speaker, and highest ranking US official, to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years.

China swiftly responded by announcing multiple military exercises nearby.

China claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as its territory and opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments.

Beijing has accused the US of breaking the status quo with the Pelosi visit, while Washington insists there has been no change to its "one-China" position of recognising the government in Beijing while allowing for informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

Meanwhile, the US has an aircraft carrier group and other naval assets in the region.

Watch: Taiwan - US committed to military intervention if China invades.

In their statement, the Asean foreign ministers called for "maximum restraint" and for all sides to "refrain from provocative action".

"The world is in dire need of wisdom and responsibility of all leaders to uphold multilateralism and partnership, cooperation, peaceful-coexistence and healthy competition for our shared goals of peace, stability, security and inclusive and sustainable development," they said.

"We should act together and Asean stands ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful dialogue between all parties including through utilising Asean-led mechanisms to deescalate tension, to safeguard peace, security and development in our region."

Asean comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.