Foreign ministers from across South East Asia have begun a series of online summits, with a particular focus on South China Sea tensions and the coronavirus crisis.
"While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to unfold in a complex manner, and our people and businesses continue to be outstretched by its repercussions, the regional geopolitical and geo-economic landscape, including the South China Sea, are witnessing growing volatilities that are detrimental to peace and stability," Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in an opening address.
The online event, hosted by Vietnam, also saw representatives from outside South East Asia, namely Australia, South Korea, Russia, Japan and India, attend to join discussions about threats to the region.
"The roles of international law and multilateral institutions are being greatly challenged," Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said.
"Challenges to the regional security and stability are always present, including factors threatening peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the South China Sea," Minh added.
His speech comes at a time when China, the United States, and numerous South East Asian nations remain embroiled in a tense stand-off over actions in the South China Sea.
Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea as its territory and has carried out live-fire drills in the waterway over recent months.
The US has responded by sending in warships and flying military planes over China's naval exercises.
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) includes Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia.