(File pix) An illuminated globe shows the South China Sea. Malaysia will have an informal meeting with China at the 10th Asean Defense Minister's Meeting in Laos next week, where the South China Sea issue would likely be raised, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein. AP Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will have an informal meeting with China at the 10th Asean Defense Minister's Meeting in Laos next week.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the South China Sea issue would likely be raised.

He said Malaysia is 'navigating' in the right direction over the South China Sea issues including the overlapping claims by several Asean countries and China.

"These are the sort of things we have to face China with, and I agree with Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Reezal Merican that the centrality of Asean must be prioritised.

"We have a better chance of facing these powers in a group of 10 than doing so individually," he told a press conference at the Parliament today.

The Pentagon said two Chinese fighter jets had on Tuesday carried out an "unsafe" intercept of a United States military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, further escalating tensions in and around the contested waterway between the two super powers.

Hishammuddin said the government was monitoring the US’ response to the incident.

He reiterated that Asean must have a concerted effort to ensure that whatever these superpowers’ geopolitical consideration, Asean being central to all this, must not break up.

"Whatever stand we make, it must be made with Asean's interest at stake. What Reezal said is very clear, when it comes to Malaysia, we will not compromise on our sovereignty," he said.