12/14/2013, 00.00
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Tokyo offers ASEAN 20 billion to halt Beijing’s hegemony

The funding was announced today at the ASEAN summit in Tokyo. The loan will be used mainly to develop the Mekong River region. The 10 ASEAN members send a signal to China and sign a joint declaration on freedom of movement and trade in the East China Sea .

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In order to combat the economic and military expansion of China in the East China Sea, Japan has offered the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN) 20 billion dollars in aid and loans. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, made the announcement today at the ASEAN summit being held in Tokyo. The decision comes a few weeks after the Beijing declaration on a new area of identification for air defense ( Zida ) in the East China Sea , an area where the interests of Japan and China converge for control of the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands.

Abe pointed out that the funding will be spread over a period of five years through loans and will be directed to the economic development of the Mekong River region. In this way, Tokyo wants to build consensus among the 10 member countries of ASEAN : Indonesia, Malaysia , Philippines, Singapore , Thailand , Brunei, Vietnam , Laos, Myanmar , Cambodia. Among them, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam share with Japan a number of territorial disputes with China over the Spratly and Paracel islands. Speaking at the meeting, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stressed that "good relations between China and Japan are crucial to the future of the region."

To give a strong signal to Beijing , the 10 Member States of ASEAN signed a joint declaration calling for the free passage of goods in the region , without coercion and claims . While not explicitly mentioning China's Zida the participants " reaffirm the importance of maintaining peace , stability and prosperity in the region , promoting safety and freedom of navigation and the resolution ... of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the principles recognized by international law".


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