Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on Asian states to defend their independence and sovereignty amid rising tensions in the disputed South China Sea, AFP reported.

Morrison’s statement came after US criticism of China regarding its escalation in the South China Sea. Washington accuses Beijing of deploying warships and building armaments of outposts at sea.

Morrison said Australia supports the principle of international law without naming China. The point is that each country in the region can be confident in its own independence and sovereignty, he told reporters on his way to Vietnam.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he was deeply concerned about the recent difficult events in the South China Sea, urging neighbors not to use force.

The South China Sea is the cause of long-standing disagreements between China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei.

Earlier, the US noted that China’s deployment of a reconnaissance vessel in the waters claimed by Vietnam was Beijing's escalation in its efforts to intimidate other pretenders to develop resources at sea.