The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with the foreign ministers of the 26 ARF participating countries, the ASEAN Secretary General, and the EU High Commissioner at the 28th Annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting hosted by ASEAN Chair Brunei Darussalam.
Secretary Blinken underscored the importance of democracy, transparency, and accountability in the Indo-Pacific. He outlined U.S. efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing more than 500 million safe and effective vaccine doses to Gavi for distribution by COVAX and 80 million vaccines from the U.S. supply to help countries in need, including 23 million doses for the Indo-Pacific. Secretary Blinken highlighted that the social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have had unique impacts on women and girls and voiced support for a gender-responsive approach to the pandemic. Secretary Blinken called on the PRC to abide by its obligations under the international law of the sea and cease its provocative behavior in the South China Sea. He raised serious concerns about ongoing human rights abuses in Tibet, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang.
The Secretary also noted deep concern with the rapid growth of the PRC’s nuclear arsenal which highlights how Beijing has sharply deviated from its decades-old nuclear strategy based on minimum deterrence. Secretary Blinken then joined other countries in calling for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Secretary urged all ARF member states to press the military regime in Burma to end violence and support the people of Burma as they work to return to democratic governance.