China Scores Tacit Victory at Southeast Asian Leaders’ Meeting – 30 Apr 2017

  • China won approval from Southeast Asian leaders on 29 Apr at a meeting where U.S. allies in Asia have previously criticized Beijing over its actions in disputed maritime territory.
  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has enjoyed an upswing in relations with China for some time, ended a summit in Manila with a statement noting “the improving cooperation between Asean and China” in the South China Sea.
  • The leaders also welcomed “progress to complete a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea” by the middle of 2017, and recognized “the long-term benefits” of peace, stability and sustainable development in the region.
  • The leaders’ avoided mention of sensitive issues such as land reclamation or militarization, though this was in an earlier draft. It also left out 2016’s ruling by an international court that rejected China’s claims to more than 80% of the South China Sea in a case brought by the Philippines under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino.
  • Speaking after the meeting, Philippines President and current Asean chairman Rodrigo Duterte said China’s recent actions in the South China Sea were not discussed at the leaders’ meeting on 29 Apr, describing any talks on the issue as “useless.”

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