BEIJING (AP) — China is "severely concerned" over the statement from a Southeast Asian nations' meeting that criticized Beijing's building of islands in the disputed South China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that reclamation and construction work being carried out on rocks and reefs controlled by China was entirely legal and shouldn't be questioned.
He said China firmly opposed attempts by countries he didn't identify to undermine Beijing's ties with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"We are severely concerned over the remarks on the South China Sea issue," Hong said at a daily news briefing.
The chairman's statement issued at the ASEAN annual summit said China's work to build islands had "eroded trust and confidence and may undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea." It said members had instructed their foreign ministers to "urgently address this matter constructively."
Summit chairman Malaysia said separately that ASEAN would avoid confrontation, after the Philippines urged ASEAN to "stand up" to China and halt the reclamation work.
Tensions have risen over the South China Sea as Beijing increases its footprint in the sea and denies the other claimants access to reefs and island groups in the region.
China maintains it is sincere in wanting to negotiate agreements but insists a vast portion of the sea is its own territory.