Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said on Monday the disputed South China Sea should not be discussed at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Liu, speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, which kicks off in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, said the meetings should avoid all talk on the sensitive issue, adding that countries outside ASEAN should not interfere.
“It should not be discussed,” said Liu. “This is not the right forum. This is a forum for promoting cooperation. If the U.S. raises the issue we shall of course object. We hope they will not.”
The issue was not on the official agenda, but expectations had been high that it would be discussed against a backdrop of increasing tensions and overlapping claims in the potentially energy-rich South China Sea.
The United States, worried about China’s increasing assertiveness in the region, is expected to repeat a call for Beijing to halt land reclamation on islands in disputed waters. Read more