ASEAN shuns mention of China's new islands, arbitration loss

Southeast Asian nations have avoided mention of China's construction of islands in the South China Sea and a U.N.-linked arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing's claims in the disputed waters.

President Rodrigo Duterte, speaking on behalf of fellow heads of state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, also expectedly skirted any expression of alarm over serious human rights concerns in the region, including the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and his deadly anti-drug campaign in a statement following their annual summit this week in Manila.

China, which wields considerable influence on the conservative 10-nation ASEAN, has steadfastly opposed criticism of its artificial islands, where it has reportedly installed a missile defense system despite widespread concern.