U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has accused China of "destabilizing actions" in the South China Sea.
In a speech Saturday, Hagel told defense officials at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore that Washington would not "look the other way" if international order is threatened.
He accused China of restricting the Philippines' access to Scarborough Shoal, beginning land reclamation at various locations in the South China Sea and erecting an oil rig in disputed waters with Vietnam.
Hagel said China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea. He called for a peaceful resolution of international disputes.
The US defense chief said that while Washington does not take sides on rival claims, the U.S. opposes any nation's use of intimidation, coercion or threat of force to assert those claims.
On Thailand, Mr. Hagel urged the military junta that took power in a coup on May 22 to release prisoners, end restrictions of freedom of expression and move immediately to hold elections.
Hagel also pledged support for Japan's plans to play a greater role in maintaining security of the region.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.