|Desiree Sison |||Feb 28, 2016 07:06 AM EST|
(Photo : Getty Images) ASEAN member-states have spoken up about the South China Sea issue as they seek a dialogue with China to discuss the raging territorial dispute.
Member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are seeking a dialogue with China to discuss their dispute over the South China Sea as 'serious concerns' mount over the growing tension in the region.
ASEAN foreign ministers would reportedly like to conduct talks with China about recent developments in the region including U.S. allegations that Beijing is militarizing the South China Sea.
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"Ministers remain seriously concerned over military activities in the region," said a statement issued by the ASEAN after a meeting of the group's foreign ministers in Laos.
Four Southeast Asian countries--Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam--have overlapping claims in the international waterway.
ASEAN, in the statement, said China's land reclamation activities and its deployment of missiles in the region has intensified tension and could undermine the peace, security and stability in the region.
"We call for non-militarisation in the South China Sea," Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh told reporters after meeting his ASEAN colleagues.
ASEAN member countries, who have rival claims with China, have been struggling to strike a balance between pushing their claims on the South China Sea and maintaining their beneficial economic relations with Beijing.
China is the biggest trade partner for most ASEAN member countries .
The United States has criticized China for its land reclamation activities and building of facilities in the South China Sea, which experts in Washington have said could be used as a military base.
Recently, news surfaced that China has deployed missiles to Woody island, part of the Paracels group of islands which are being claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
US warships have repeatedly sailed near China-controlled territories in the South China Sea to assert the international right to freedom of navigation.
President Xi Jinping
US President Barack Obama called on President Xi Jinping recently to voice concerns about the militarization of the region
Vietnam, for its part, has sent a diplomatic note to the Chinese Embassy accusing China of violating its sovereignty to the islands.
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