Leaders of Southeast Asian countries have expressed concern about the growing conflict between the United States and China over the South China Sea and other issues.
An online meeting of the East Asia Summit took place on Wednesday, involving members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan, the United States, China and others.
One of the main topics has been the South China Sea, as Beijing has stepped up maritime activities there. They include building artificial islands and militarizing them.
In an apparent effort to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region, the US has created a security framework known as AUKUS with Australia and Britain.
At the meeting, US President Joe Biden expressed concern about threats to the international rules-based order, apparently with China in mind. Biden vowed to stand alongside allies and partners in support of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of the seas.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob expressed fears that a security pact like AUKUS could spark an arms race and spark tensions, potentially leading to instability in the South China Sea.