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Vietnam warns South China Sea is a 'test' of ASEAN

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) shakes hands with Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh during the ASEAN-China meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN annual ministerial meeting and the Regional Security Forum, in Vientiane, on July 25, 2016Vietnam has warned that the inability of Southeast Asian nations to forge a unified front against Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea is a “test” of the regional bloc in the face of its greatest security challenge. The unusually strong comments from a key claimant to the contested waters, comes as diplomats meet in Laos for the first summit since a UN-backed tribunal debunked Beijing’s legal claim to vast stretches of the strategically vital sea. After talks stuttered on Sunday, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a late night statement warning that the South China Sea had become “a test case for the unity and the central role of ASEAN”.

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