China reclamation in the South China Sea dispute has “increased tensions” in the region, Southeast Asian foreign ministers said in a joint statement in ASEAN summit on Thursday.
A joint statement obtained by AFP on Thursday:
“We took note of the serious concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations in the South China Sea, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was addressing a regional forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, warned China over construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea.
Kerry said China will obstruct free navigation and overflight in the region by building facilities for “military purposes” on man-made islands. “Freedom of navigation and overflight are among the essential pillars of international maritime law.”
China claims control over nearly the entire South China Sea, a key shipping route thought to hold rich oil and gas reserves. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.
Wang said that the Philippines had “illegally occupied” islands and reefs in the region.
China was “entitled to defend its own sovereignty, rights and interests,” according to a report from Xinhua news agency in China . He also said that the Philippines and Japan teamed up at a regional security forum this week to attack China over the disputed South China Sea.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Kuala Lumpur was attended by foreign ministers from South-East Asia, China, Japan and other nations, including Australia. IMAGE source/gmanetwork