PUBLISHED: 02:08, Thu, Sep 10, 2020 | UPDATED: 02:08, Thu, Sep 10, 2020
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will go head to head with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi for their first meeting since Washington announced its sanctions on Chinese companies amid Beijing’s actions in the disputed waters. The summit between 10 South-east Asian countries comes days after Beijing launched ballistic missiles in the South China Sea as part of live-fire exercises.
China has claimed the resource-rich South China Sea which has been contested by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Before the summit began on Wednesday, Mr Pompeo said: "The Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a clear and intensifying pattern of bullying its neighbours.”
In an opening speech, Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc said: "The geopolitical environment, regional economy, including that of the East Sea [South China Sea], are experiencing several upheavals, influencing peace and stability."
He added: "While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold in a complex manner, and our people and businesses continue to be outstretched by its repercussions, the regional geopolitical and geo-economic landscape, including the South China Sea, are witnessing growing volatilities that endanger peace and stability.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will go head to head with his Chinese counterpart (Image: getty)
China’s Foreign Minister blamed the US for the increased military tensions in the South China Sea (Image: getty)
Mr Nguyen’s speech comes as China, the US and other South-east Asian nations are in a tense standoff over actions in the South China Sea.
A senior South-east Asian diplomat told AFP the “power rivalry” between China and the US will dominate the discussions at the summit.
He said: "The United States and China will likely use the meetings as a platform to throw everything at each other.”
Mr Nguyen said smaller countries will “say their usual lines” and then hide when the US and China argue.
READ MORE: South China Sea: China brands US ‘biggest driver’ of military tensions
Mike Pompeo said the US sees all of China’s claims