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South China Sea Dispute: Philippines Seeks Regional Support

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Vietnamese Vice Admiral Nguyen Van Hien, Chief of the Vietnamese Navy, addresses the 5th ASEAN Navy Chiefs' meeting in Hanoi on July 27, 2011. The meeting takes place amid rising tensions over territorial dispute in the South China Sea between China, Taiwan and some ASEAN countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei (HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images). | Getty

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines is seeking the backing of Southeast Asian governments for its proposal to separate disputed areas in the South China Sea from non-disputed waters.

The move is part of a plan by Manila to ease the tensions with China and other claimants.

The Philippines and Vietnam have accused China this year of disrupting their oil exploration activities in the Spratlys and Paracel Islands. Bejing claims the entire South China Sea as its own.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said Friday that legal experts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations will meet in September to tackle the initiative.

Beijing says it favors bilateral negotiations with individual claimants.

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