VIENTIANE, Laos – The draft of a declaration at a Southeast Asian summit reveals that the region's leaders would skip mention of a July 12 arbitration ruling that shot down China's expansive territorial claims. The omission is being seen as a victory for Beijing's diplomatic clout.
But the draft also contains strongly voiced concern over Beijing's aggressive island construction in the South China Sea, which Southeast Asian countries fear could destabilize the region.
The draft, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, after more deliberations will be released Thursday at the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.
Officials say Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte plans to ask the Chinese premier at a separate meeting if China is trying to develop another disputed reef, the Scarborough Shoal, off his country's northwestern coast.