JAKARTA, Nov 30 (Reuters) - China's plan to board and search
ships that illegally enter what Beijing considers its territory
in the disputed South China Sea is a very serious turn of
events, the head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) said on Friday.
"My reaction is (this is) certainly an escalation of the
tension that has already been building. And it is a very serious
turn of events," ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan told
"It is extremely important to exercise restraint and to try
to approach this development with a level head and be open to
listen to concerns of all parties, all sides," he said.
The South China Sea is Asia's biggest potential military
trouble spot with several Asian countries claiming sovereignty
over waters believed to be rich in oil and gas.
China claims virtually the entire sea. The Philippines,
Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia claim various parts.
(Reporting by Matthew Bigg; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)