BEIJING - China has asked ASEAN nations to avoid "undue interference" in the Myanmar crisis, as the United States and other democratic forces have been imposing sanctions on the Southeast Asian country's junta, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
"China is a close neighbor of Myanmar linked by mountains and rivers, and the situation in Myanmar has a direct bearing on China's interests," Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his counterparts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Monday.
During the face-to-face meeting in China's south-central city of Chongqing held amid the coronavirus pandemic, Wang said Beijing "supports ASEAN in playing a constructive role in properly handling Myanmar's domestic issues."
"We are willing to continue to work with ASEAN to jointly urge all parties in Myanmar to put the interests of the people first, and keep calm to eliminate all kinds of violence," he said.
China has refrained from condemning Myanmar's military coup, unlike the United States, the European Union and Japan.
Beijing is believed to be attempting to increase its economic and security influence in the neighboring country, from which it imports natural resources like gas and crude oil, while its tensions with the United States and other democratic countries have been escalating in the Asia-Pacific region.
Myanmar is located right on the path of China's strategic plan to gain direct access to the Indian Ocean as part of its "Belt and Road" project for the development of infrastructure and trade across Asia, Europe and Africa.
China seeks to work in tandem to deal with the virus outbreak and the Myanmar issue with the ASEAN members, some of which have strengthened economic ties with Beijing but depend on Washington in security terms.
It has provided them with China-developed coronavirus vaccines as it promotes "vaccine diplomacy" across the globe.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.