China and the ASEAN have agreed to set up a phone hotline to help avoid accidental military clashes in the South China Sea.
The accord was reached at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vientiane, Laos on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reports.
However, the annual gathering, which was also attended by leaders from China, Russia and the United States, did not touch on a ruling by an international arbitration court at The Hague in July that rejected Beijing’s claims of sovereignty in the disputed waters, the newspaper said.
China has rejected the ruling, which was filed by the Philippines in 2013.
The Philippines and several other ASEAN members, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, claim parts of the South China Sea.
In its statement, the 10-member body only affirmed their respect for international law.
The outcome of the summit is likely to please China but prove a setback to both the US and Japan, which have been urging Beijing to respect the tribunal’s verdict, the Journal said, citing observers.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in his first meeting with international counterparts since assuming office in June, raised issues related to the South China Sea during the meeting but didn’t make any specific reference to the tribunal ruling, Philippine government spokesmen said.
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