A prominent senator says the U.S. should take action to make clear it opposes use of force by China in asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb said Monday that Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries were watching to see whether the U.S. reinforces a message it conveyed last year that it has a national security interest in the peaceful resolution of such maritime disputes.
Vietnam on Monday held naval drills off its coast after accusing Chinese boats of disrupting oil and gas exploration. A similar dispute flared last week between China and the Philippines.
Webb heads a Senate committee overseeing American policy toward East Asia. He said he plans to submit a Senate resolution condemning China's actions.