A watered-down statement Monday by Southeast Asian nations that failed to mention a landmark legal ruling over China’s claims to most of the South China Sea could diminish the clout of the region’s key grouping, analysts say.

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) avoided mentioning in its annual foreign minister’s communique the July 12 ruling by the U.N.-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, instead offering the equivalent of a slap on the wrist to China, the group’s biggest trading partner, over its moves in the disputed waters.

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