CLARK (AFP) – China and Southeast Asian nations may hold a joint naval exercise next year to help build trust, Singapore’s defence minister said yesterday, following years of acrimony over rival claims in the South China Sea. Chinese defence minister Chang Wanquan yesterday attended an Asean security forum and pushed for the maritime drill, according to Singapore’s Ng Eng Hen. “This idea was openly floated and I haven’t heard any objections to it,” Mr Ng said. “This is an exercise to build friendship and trust.” China claims nearly all of the sea, even waters approaching the coasts of its neighbours. Its claims overlap with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.