Asia

ASEAN summit may bow to Chinese pressure on South China Sea

  • FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2016, file photo, U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, walk together at West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. Obama said ahead of his meeting with Xi that the U.S. has been "very firm" in response to Chinese military assertiveness. Xi told Obama that China will continue to “unswervingly safeguard” its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2016, file photo, U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, walk together at West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. Obama said ahead of his meeting with Xi that the U.S. has been "very firm" in response to Chinese military assertiveness. Xi told Obama that China will continue to “unswervingly safeguard” its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential gas and oil reserves in the South China Sea. (Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File)

    FILE - In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential gas and oil reserves in the South China Sea. (Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

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.