Referring to China's manmade islands in the Spratly archipelago, Yasay said ASEAN countries had "noticed, very unsettlingly, that China has installed weapons systems in these facilities that they have established, and they have expressed strong concern about this." With the Philippines chairing the bloc this year, Yasay's comments signal a rare, firm position by a grouping that often struggles to achieve consensus, due to its contrasting opinions on how to respond to China's assertiveness. ASEAN's statements of concern often avoid mentioning China by name. Much is at stake from upsetting

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