China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands in South China Sea waters crucial for global commerce. The area is also rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.
Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen told reporters on Friday on the sidelines of a meeting in Hawaii that incidents may not necessarily involve military ships. He noted navies have established protocols for when they encounter each other at sea.
Instead, he says confrontations may develop between fishing vessels or other civilian ships.