Southeast Asian defense ministers dropped a ceremonial joint statement issued at the end of an annual summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday over the mention of China's activitiy in the South China Sea. U.S. officials said China was lobbying members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to omit any reference in the final declaration concerning China's activity in the South China Sea, where it has disputed claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. Officials from Malaysia did not immediately comment on why the ceremony was dropped, but China's Defense Ministry blamed "certain countries" outside Southeast Asia, which includes the U.S. and Japan. The news comes just days after the U.S. incited Beijing by sailing a warship near one of China's reclaimed areas.
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