Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister concludes successful Asean meetings

It also followed a statement released by Asean foreign ministers on Sunday, which was delayed due to disagreements on whether or not to make references to China's activities in the South China Sea and its expansion of defense capabilities there.

Duterte and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met in Manila at a regional meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

In a joint statement, the three expressed serious concerns over the long-seething sea disputes and "voiced their strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions".

As coordinator of the ASEAN-India relations, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, alongside India's Minister of State for External Affairs V.K Singh, co-chaired the ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting, which produced number of important outcomes, including the approval of the theme for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit as "Shared Values, Common Destiny".

China continues to accuse nations such as Japan and the US that have criticized its military buildup in the South China Sea of meddling in regional affairs - and it can now cite a pact with Southeast Asia's regional bloc as evidence that the parties involved can handle the matter on their own.

According to Reuters, Chinese representatives spent the last few months telling Singaporean officials "they don't want trouble for Beijing" in 2018. China saw Vietnam as responsible for language in an Asean statement that mentioned land reclamation, the people said.

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The ministers did run into an impasse concerning the often contentious issues surrounding the South China Sea. "It was a short meeting, but I specifically related the message that [Seoul] had made two proposals [to Pyongyang], and that we hoped for a positive and proactive response on them", she said.

But Harris offered nothing more than moral support to Southeast Asia.

The China-ASEAN relationship has become the most dynamic and most profound one among ASEAN's relationships with dialog partners, he added. Programs like Fulbright and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative build enduring people-to-people ties. This leniency toward Beijing has made it a good deal simpler for China to tighten control over the region.

The ministers from the three Asia-Pacific powers "reiterated that the three countries will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

In Manila on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the grand celebration of ASEAN's 50th anniversary along with his counterparts from ASEAN and other nations.

Even an global arbitration court's July 2016 ruling that a Chinese territorial claim asserting sovereignty over almost all of the sea was invalid went largely undiscussed this year. As in past criticisms, they did not cite China by name.

  • Jack Mann