Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has told Vietnam the Ukraine crisis is an important time for the two countries, which together can “make contributions to regional peace” in the face of the “damage” caused by the US Indo-Pacific strategy . In a phone conversation on Thursday with his Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son, Wang said the Ukraine issue “has once again made Asian countries realise that maintaining peace and stability is precious and indulging in group confrontation will lead to endless risks”. China has been under pressure from the United States and Europe for refraining from calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February a war. Instead, China has backed Russia’s “reasonable security concerns” and accused the US and Nato of driving the conflict. Like China, Vietnam was one of more than 30 countries to abstain from voting on UN resolutions condemning Russia for its attack on Ukraine and the escalating humanitarian crisis. Vietnam is also being wooed by the US, which has pledged to strengthen its ties with Hanoi and others in the region as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy, published in February. “The United States has tried to create regional tension and provoke confrontation by pushing forward the Indo-Pacific strategy,” Wang said, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement. “This will seriously damage the hard-won peaceful development in the region and erode regional cooperation that has had Asean at its core. We cannot let the Cold War mentality return to the region and the Ukraine tragedy to repeat around us.” According to the statement, Son welcomed China’s role in facilitating peace talks to end the conflict and said there were similarities in their position. He also expressed a wish to continue communication on the issue. Wang has also met in recent weeks with his counterparts from other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations , including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar. The diplomatic push comes ahead of a Southeast Asian trip by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida later this month. Kishida is expected to visit Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, seeking to strengthen cooperation on the war in Ukraine and “the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific amid China’s rise”, according to a Kyodo news agency report. China reaches out to neighbours as Ukraine war fuels tensions with US In his call on Thursday, Wang said China would continue to supply Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam while also hoping for more cross-border railway services. Wang again called for the early signing of a code of conduct for the South China Sea, where Beijing has overlapping territorial claims with a number of Southeast Asian countries. Wang said the situation in the South China Sea “remained generally stable with the joint efforts of China and Asean countries” and accused “some forces outside of the region with ulterior motives” of wanting an unstable situation in the waterway. Beijing has been pushing for a code of conduct, which is expected to be more legally binding than the existing Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. However, little progress has been made with both sides understood to be unable to find common ground or a mechanism to ensure the code is effectively implemented.