ASEAN ministers rock no boats in Myanmar, South China Sea


CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Friday hewed to the group’s practice of reaching the least provocative consensus possible in discussions of such divisive issues as Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis and China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

A two-day Foreign Ministers’ Retreat was the regional group’s first meeting since Thailand took over its annual chairmanship.

The host’s summary of the meeting emphasized the humanitarian role ASEAN members could play in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where more than 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority fled from a brutal government counterinsurgency campaign.

Standard ASEAN practice is to avoid criticizing what are considered each country’s domestic affairs. But Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis is also a regional problem, because of the hundreds of thousands of refugees it has generated, justifying discussion by the group.