Vietnamese expatriates and Filipinos display placards at a rally in front of the Chinese Consulate in Makati last month. Pic: AP.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A senior U.S. official says Washington wants to expand its economic ties with Asia, the world’s fastest growing region, but warned that China’s provocative conduct in the South China Sea raises tensions that are bad for business.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker told American and Filipino business groups Wednesday that the United States has overinvested its diplomatic, economic and strategic resources in other parts of the world. She said it was committed to policies “to correct the imbalance and to deepen U.S. engagement” with Asia.

Pritzker told reporters that China’s deployment last month of an oil rig accompanied by government vessels in waters disputed by Vietnam was “provocative” and contributes to tensions and uncertainty that are bad for business.

She’s on a swing through Vietnam, the Philippines and Myanmar.

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