Senior US, China defense officials join ASEAN meeting

ASEAN defense chiefs have held a second day of meetings in Jakarta. Senior US and Chinese defense officials also attended as the bloc's dialogue partners.
It came shortly after an agreement between the two countries' leaders to resume military contacts.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Jing Jianfeng, the deputy chief of China's Central Military Commission's Joint Staff Department, were among the participants.

Austin said at its opening that he hopes for "productive dialogue that will lead to continued progress in greater peace and stability throughout the region."

One focus was the South China Sea, where China has been growing increasingly assertive. The Philippines says Chinese vessels have collided with or fired water cannons on its ships in the disputed waters.

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who chairs the meeting, noted that some ASEAN members and China discussed the situation. Prabowo said they should continue to encourage efforts to create a code of conduct or a fixed procedure to avoid unwanted incidents. He also stressed that mechanisms like the defense meeting are crucial to maintaining peace and prosperity.