U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the ongoing tension between China and its neighboring countries over disputed islands could have a destabilizing effect on the Asia-Pacific region, BBC reported Saturday.
Hagel told an audience at a summit in Singapore Saturday that the U.S. will not ignore any actions that violate international laws, according to BBC.
China is claiming sovereign rights to territorial and maritime areas close to the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan.
“We firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims,” Hagel added, according to BBC.
“All nations of the region, including China, have a choice: to unite, and recommit to a stable regional order, or, to walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that has benefited millions of people.”
Hagel has also expressed support for the Japanese government’s decision to take a proactive approach to regional security.