The chief of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said China’s plan to access and seize vessels that enter territory Beijing considers its own in the South China Sea is likely to worsen existing disputes, Reuters reported. “My reaction is (this is) certainly an escalation of the tension that has already been building. And it is a very serious turn of events,” ASEAN head Surin Pitsuwan told Reuters on Friday. New laws, effective January 1, will allow police to control foreign vessels which “illegally enter” Chinese seas and order them to change direction, state-owned newspaper China Daily reported. In a separate report, Vietnam said China should not use trade to strong-arm opponents in maritime disputes. The statement came after conflict over islands in the East China Sea led to falling purchases of Japanese goods in China.