British Foreign Secretary William Hague says Britain is looking at increasing its involvement in Asia's economy and security but won't take sides in territorial disputes in the South China Sea involving China and its smaller neighbors.

Hague said during a visit to the Philippine capital on Thursday that trade and security are closely related and thrive in open and free societies that follow the rule of law.

He said Southeast Asian countries can find a peaceful solution of the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

China claims virtually the entire region, putting it in conflict with Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. It is also in conflict with Japan over small islands in the East China Sea.