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Conflict resolution with China was the main focus of attention during the session.

“The ASEAN Member States made an assessment of the current status of regional maritime security and cooperation, and shared country perspectives on the current prospects and challenges concerning maritime cooperation,” according to the official statement.

“They emphasized in particular the respect of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and other ASEAN-initiated documents such as the 1967 Bangkok Declaration, the Bali Concords, the 1976 Treaty of Amity of Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea], and the recent Six-Point Principles on the West Philippine Sea.”

China steadfastly rejected any application of international or regional law to its maritime claims in the South China Sea. Beijing also vehemently objected to any efforts to make the multiple maritime disputes with China an ASEAN-wide issue, despite the fact that four of the 10 member states are challenging China’s claims. China prefers to deal with its challengers one by one.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at mmileyu@gmail.com.