Hagel issues warning over Asian maritime disputes
JERUDONG (AFP) - Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel warned fellow defence ministers on Thursday that a growing number of maritime incidents and tensions in disputed Asian waters increase the risk of a dangerous international confrontation.
Mr Hagel pressed ahead with a second day of talks in Brunei even as the United States prepares for a possible military strike to punish Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons.
China has faced increasing accusations of bullying tactics in asserting its claim to nearly the whole of the strategic South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by several Southeast Asian countries.
Elsewhere, Tokyo and Beijing have played cat and mouse in the East China Sea over disputed islands. Japan earlier this week scrambled fighter jets after a Chinese government plane approached airspace Japan claims as it own.