July 25, 2016 / 7:00 AM / 4 years ago

China calls for tension over South China Sea to be toned down

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrives at a meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Vientiane, Laos July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

VIENTIANE (Reuters) - International tension over maritime disputes in the South China Sea should be toned down, China’s Foreign Minister said on Monday, after a “deeply flawed” international court ruled against Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

The U.N.-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague handed an emphatic legal victory to the Philippines in the maritime dispute earlier this month.

The court ruling was built on flimsy legal grounds, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in the Laos capital of Vientiane on Monday.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) supported China’s stance that disputes should be resolved bilaterally, he said after meeting ASEAN foreign ministers on Monday.

To that end, ASEAN backed plans for the Philippines and China to hold direct talks on their dispute, he said.

“The page had now been turned,” on the issue after the tension caused by the court ruling, he said.

The relationship between ASEAN and China should not be defined by the maritime issues, he added.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Simon Webb and Lincoln Feast

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