ASEAN defense chiefs call for cooperation with South China Sea in mind

Defense chiefs from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, along with the United States and China, have wrapped up a meeting in Cambodia. They adopted a joint declaration calling for the adherence to normal maritime rules, seemingly with tensions in the South China Sea in mind.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe joined the ASEAN members in Siem Reap.

They discussed issues surrounding the South China Sea, where China has been increasing its maritime activities. Vietnam and the Philippines both have territorial disputes with China.

The declaration reaffirms the importance of promoting peace, security, stability and freedom of navigation.

It also stresses joint commitment to promoting cohesiveness in adapting to geopolitical and geostrategic shifts. This appears to be a reference to growing tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan.

The US and China have been increasingly involved in the region. China's defense minister met Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this month, while US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Philippine island of Palawan, which faces the disputed waters.