South China Sea: Australia urges 'sovereignty' as tensions rise

Hanoi: Australia's prime minister on Friday urged nations in Asia to stand up for their "independence and sovereignty", with tensions high in the disputed South China Sea where Beijing is under fire for increasingly bullish behaviour. Scott Morrison's comments came after the United States 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.

Morrison was speaking during a trip to Vietnam, one of China's most vocal critics over competing claims in the resource-rich sea. A Chinese survey ship has antagonised Hanoi since early July, sailing though waters near the Spratly Islands where Vietnam has several oil and gas projects.

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