The ASEAN countries met on April 29 in Manila, Philippines for the 30th ASEAN Summit and, interestingly, it aimed to soften up its tone on the South China Sea. The summit in Manila reverted back from its hard stance on China by avoiding references to China’s increasing naval presence in the waters of East Asia.
The Chairman’s statement dropped the mention of “land reclamation and militarization,” while the previous statements of ASEAN summits have condemned Chinese presence in South China Sea. Importantly, not a single leader raised questions on it. The People’s Republic of China is not a member of the ASEAN bloc and did not attend the Summit; however, it has paid great attention about the content of its statements.