Southeast Asian countries retract statement expressing concerns on South China Sea

By Rozanna Latiff KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Southeast Asian countries withdrew a statement that expressed the region's deep concerns over tension in the South China Sea, where China is involved in protracted territorial disputes with some of its neighbors. The strongly-worded statement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), released by the Malaysian foreign ministry, did not name China directly but warned against raising tension in the waters, where Beijing has been building artificial islands and increasing its military presence. "We expressed our serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and which may have the potential to undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea," said the statement, which was issued following a meeting in the Chinese city of Kunming between foreign ministers from ASEAN and China.

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