HONG KONG (Reuters) – China is worried it could face fresh criticism over its actions in the South China Sea when Singapore becomes chairman of the Association of South East Asian Nations next year, and is putting pressure on the city-state to make sure that doesn’t happen, according to people familiar with the situation.
They say that Chinese representatives have told Singapore counterparts in private meetings over recent months that they don’t want trouble for Beijing when Singapore takes over the annual leadership of the 10-nation group in 2018.
Diplomats say they believe that Beijing has used its influence over countries who have chaired ASEAN in the past to dilute the group’s stand on the South China Sea row, potentially one of the most volatile disputes in Asia.
The current chairman is the Philippines, which hosted the group’s foreign ministers last weekend. ASEAN failed to issue its customary statement…
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