Security was a main subject for the latest talks of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vientiane, Laos.
China’s behavior in the South China Sea and the recent activities of North Korea are among the issues being discussed.
The meeting of foreign ministers follows a recent ruling by the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands. That ruling denied China’s historical claims in the South China Sea. The court’s ruling was based on the United Nations Law of the Sea.
There are concerns the decision could increase tensions and lead to more Chinese military exercises in the waterway. China has said it does not recognize the ruling. The island of Taiwan has also said it does not recognize the court’s findings.
Monday, foreign ministers tried to come to a consensus on China’s behavior and expansion in the South China Sea.
The 10-member group released an official statement about the South China Sea. The statement noted serious concerns over land reclamation and the increase of activities in the South China Sea.
The statement said actions in the region had “eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.”
The recent tribunal ruling by the court in The Hague or any single nation, including China, were not mentioned in the statement.
Rules-based international system to be discussed
The United States is an ASEAN partner as is China.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also is attending the meetings. Kerry said he is proud the U.S. is a partner with ASEAN. He said ASEAN “speaks up for a rules-based international system that protects the rights of all nations, big or small.”
The U.S. signed the ASEAN-U.S. Strategic Partnership last November. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama hosted a meeting with leaders from the ASEAN countries.
Another ASEAN milestone involves China. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the relationship between China and ASEAN. Earlier this month, leaders from both sides exchanged messages of congratulations.
China is ASEAN's biggest trading partner. It became ASEAN's dialogue partner in 1991. Both sides established a strategic partnership in 2003. In 2010, they started the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Nike Ching wrote this story for VOA News. The Associated Press contributed to the story. Jim Dresbach adapted the story for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
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Words in This Story
consensus – n. an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group
erode –v. to slowly destroy or take away
undermine – v. to make something weaker or less effective usually in a secret or gradual way
tribunal – n. a kind of court that has authority in a specific area
milestone – n. a very important event