As tensions between Washington and Beijing look set to swamp a regional ASEAN Summit, China accused the US of becoming “the biggest driver of militarisation” in the contested South China Sea.

Iran Press/Asia: US-China rivalry is expected to dominate discussion at ASEAN conference, which comes just days after Beijing launched ballistic missiles in the flashpoint waters as part of live-fire exercises.

As tensions simmer, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told an online meeting of foreign ministers from South-east Asian countries that “the United States is becoming the biggest driver of militarisation of the South China Sea.”

Wang said that China's greatest interest in the waters was “peace and stability,” while accusing the US of “creating tension and seeking profit from it.”

“The United States is becoming the most dangerous factor damaging peace in the South China Sea,” Wang added, according to state news agency Xinhua today.

China has reinforced its claim to the South China Sea by building up small shoals and reefs into military bases with airstrips and port facilities.

This year's ASEAN summit is the first meeting since the US announced sanctions on two dozen Chinese companies over Beijing's construction of artificial islands in the disputed waters, which Beijing blasted as “tyrannical.”

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