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Asia Minute: Southeast Asian Defense Ministers Meet with Chinese Counterpart

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This weekend, defense ministers from across Southeast Asia met to discuss issues from natural disasters to terrorism. The location of the meeting was unusual: for the first time, the officials met in Beijing. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

It was an unusual weekend for defense ministers from Southeast Asia.  On Friday, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met with each other—and with China’s defense minister.  Next on the agenda was a weekend security forum hosted by China.

While the ASEAN meetings were closed to the media - the Malaysian Defense Minister said discussions included plans for intelligence sharing when it comes to responding to the threat of ISIS militants.  The topic of territorial disputes in the South China Sea was discussed, but the substance of those talks was not immediately clear.

The South China Sea was covered in the weekend forum—where a top Chinese general said his country’s creation of artificial islands is intended to help regional shipping.  General Fan Changlong called the islands “projects” that will not affect freedom of navigation - adding that they “will enable us to provide better public services to aid navigation and production in the South China Sea.”

The Philippines and Vietnam have already contested China’s territorial claims in the region, and US officials have made it clear US naval ships may soon test some of the territorial limits claimed by China.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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