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Australia PM urges Asian nations to stand up for ‘sovereignty’ amid S. China Sea tensions

Australia PM urges Asian nations to stand up for ‘sovereignty’ amid S. China Sea tensions

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday urged nations in Asia to stand up for their “independence and sovereignty,” with tensions high in the disputed South China Sea. The comments came after the US slammed China for its “escalation” in the waterway, a key global shipping route, where Beijing is accused of deploying warships, arming outposts and ramming fishing vessels, AFP said.

Morrison was speaking during a trip to Vietnam, one of China’s most vocal critics over competing claims in the resource-rich sea. The PM said Australia supports “the principle of international law,” without naming China and refusing to “take sides.”

“It is about ensuring that each and every nation in the region can have confidence in its own independence and sovereignty,” according to Morrison. Earlier, he had affirmed the Pacific region as one “of sovereign interdependent states, resistant to coercion,” in comments seen as aimed at China.

Beijing claims the majority of the disputed sea area, while alleged historic rights are also contested by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei.