24 - 11 - 2017 | 1:36
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ASEAN gives Beijing a pass on South China Sea dispute, cites 'improving cooperation'

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Southeast Asian countries took a softer stance on South China Sea disputes during a weekend summit, according to a statement issued on Sunday, which went easy on China by avoiding tacit references to its building and arming of its manmade islands.

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A chairman's statement of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was released about 12 hours after the summit ended, and dropped references to "land reclamation and militarization" included in the text issued at last year's meeting, and in an earlier, unpublished version seen by Reuters on Saturday.

The outcome follows what two ASEAN diplomats on Saturday said were efforts by Chinese foreign ministry and embassy officials to pressure ASEAN chair the Philippines to keep Beijing's contentious activities in the strategic waterway off ASEAN's official agenda.

It also indicates four ASEAN members who the diplomats said had wanted a firmer position had agreed to the statement's more conciliatory tone.

Read more at Channel NewsAsia

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