Amid South China Sea tensions, China hosts meeting with defense ministers from 10-nation ASEAN

Amid South China Sea tensionsBEIJING — China hosted Southeast Asian defense ministers Friday in a bid to burnish its reputation in a region wary of Beijing's territorial ambitions, while expectations grow that the U.S. might directly challenge Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

The meeting in Beijing marks the first time China has hosted such a gathering. Four of the countries from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations taking part have claims to seas and islands in the South China Sea that clash with Beijing's own.

The meeting was expected to skirt such contentious issues as China seeks to leverage such forums to soften its image. Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan did not directly mention the dispute in his opening remarks, pointing instead to the threats that terrorism, radicalism, natural disasters and major accidents pose to the region.

Available: http://www.startribune.com/chinese-military-reaches-out-amid-south-china-sea-tensions/333003751/

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