The build-up of militarised islands by Beijing is triggering concern among the international community. Many countries and organisations are expressing their stance, which indicates they are worried about threats to peace. The US has said China is intimidating other claimants out of developing resources in the South China Sea.

Chinese authorities in turn have accused the US of trying to drive a wedge between it and other countries.

Beijing reiterated that other non-regional nations are “hyping up the tensions.”

Vietnam said it welcomes the participation of other nations.

Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said: “The South China Sea has important implications for countries inside and outside the region.

“These are in terms of economy, security, safety, freedom of aviation and navigation.”

In a sign that Vietnam is hoping for support from the international community she said: “Vietnam welcomes and is willing to join other nations and the international community to maintain peace, stability and security in the region.”

Ms Hang was responding to a statement by the UK, France and Germany on Thursday, which called for restraint in the South China Sea without mentioning any parties.

Chinese and Vietnamese coast guard vessels are engaged in a standoff over a lucrative oil block claimed by Vietnam near its coast.

The three European countries said tensions could lead to insecurity and instability in the region, and added the legal framework set out by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea granting several claimants sovereign rights to the waters “must be carried out.”

Tensions are building as last month Vietnamese police broke up a brief protest outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi against Beijing’s maritime survey of an offshore block in the southeast Asian nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Vietnamese and Chinese ships have been in a weeks-long standoff near the oil block, the latest confrontation in waters that are a potential global flashpoint as the United States challenges China’s sweeping maritime claims.

Protests in the authoritarian and Communist-ruled Southeast Asian country are rare, and police dispersed the short-lived demonstration of about 10 activists of the “No-U” group within minutes.

By Brian McGleenon - Express (.uk) - SEptember 2, 2019