China’s President Xi tells Southeast Asian leaders Beijing would not ‘bully’ smaller countries

File photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering a speech via video at the opening ceremony of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, in southern China’s Guangxi province on November 27, 2020.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping told leaders of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a summit on Monday that Beijing would not coerce its smaller regional neighbors, Chinese state media reported.

The China-ASEAN virtual summit, which is being held to celebrate 30 years of dialogue, would help regional peace, stability, and development, he said, according to state media.

China would never seek hegemony nor take advantage of its size to “bully” smaller countries, and would work with ASEAN to eliminate “interference”, Xi said.

The summit started without a Myanmar representative present, according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting. The reason for the non-attendance was not immediately clear, and a spokesperson for Myanmar’s military government did not answer calls seeking comment.

Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, who has led a bloody crackdown on dissent since seizing power from Myanmar’s civilian government on Feb. 1, was excluded from a regional summit in October.

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