China island-building tops Asean meet agenda

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KUALA LUMPUR–Beijing faces pressure over its island-building in the South China Sea during high-level Asian security meetings this week that will include the top US and Chinese diplomats.

China is expanding tiny reefs into islands and topping some with military posts to reinforce its disputed claims over the strategic sea, fanning fears of a regional arms race and possible conflict.

Southeast Asia’s human-trafficking problem and concerns over North Korean missile launches are also expected to be among the issues discussed at the talks in Kuala Lumpur.

But a senior US State Department official said the sea row will be at the “center” of the three days of foreign minister meetings starting Tuesday, an annual security dialogue hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

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