(From AFP)

Southeast Asian nations were deadlocked Sunday over how to confront sabre-rattling in the South China Sea as pressure from Beijing again drove a wedge between countries on the region’s most contentious security issue.

Staunch China ally Cambodia is preventing Southeast Asia from reaching a consensus on the South China Sea

The gathering in Vientiane is the first time regional players — including China and the United States — have met en masse since a UN-backed tribunal delivered a hammer blow to Beijing’s claim to vast swathes of the strategic sea.

Read: Will China’s realpolitik prevail in sea row?

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) includes four countries who have competing claims with Beijing over parts of the strategic sea and the regional body is fiercely divided over the issue.

Rival claimants have accused China of deftly forging alliances with smaller countries like Laos, this year’s host, and Cambodia through aid and loans to divide the the once consensus-driven bloc. Read More

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