China has scored a "diplomatic victory" at the just-concluded East Asian leaders' meetings as ASEAN leaders decided not to chime in with Washington and Tokyo over the South China Sea issue, several global media outlets reported.
An article appeared Friday on the website of The Wall Street Journal noted that ASEAN leaders chose to distance themselves from the U.S. stance regarding a recent arbitration ruling over the issue and use a softer tone -- even the Philippines, the country that filed the arbitration case, did not raise the subject during the series of meetings.
Another WSJ article noted an agreement between China and ASEAN nations to set up a hotline "as a fresh step to help avoid accidental military clashes in the South China Sea."
It also said a Wednesday statement by the 10-member bloc "reflected how Southeast Asian nations have largely moved on from the initial tensions surrounding The Hague tribunal's ruling and now shifted their focus on ensuring regional stability."
The Financial Times also noticed the "mild statement," saying the ASEAN countries did not mention the South China Sea arbitration case.
Meanwhile, an article carried in the Jakarta Post also spoke highly of a China-ASEAN joint statement on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the South China Sea as well as a guideline on a senior diplomat hotline to cope with maritime emergencies.
The two documents showed that the parties involved are ready to focus their energy on building trust and march together toward the future, the article said, adding that the implementation of the two documents is expected to reduce the odds of accidents in the South China Sea and substantially promote regional peace and stability.
Experts believed what China and ASEAN countries have achieved during their summit are of great importance.
"Consensus between China and the ASEAN nations will be conducive for peace and stability in the area, and at the same time will prevent outsider countries from sabotaging regional peace. That is simply the most significant achievement of these meetings," said Saeed Chaudhry, chair of the Islamabad Council for International Affairs.
Tran Viet Thai, deputy director of Vietnam's Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, made similar comments, saying that the latest China-ASEAN consensus deserves applause as it would contribute to regional peace and stability.
Meanwhile, Chen Gang, a senior research fellow at the East Asia Institute in the National University of Singapore, said it seems to him that China and ASEAN managed to move on from the arbitration case, conducted their summit in a peaceful and friendly atmosphere, and achieved better-than-expected results.