The government will expand aid to Asian countries amid China's growing maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea, according to an annual report on foreign aid, the contents of which were obtained by Kyodo News on Tuesday.

The Foreign Ministry's latest white paper on the country's official development assistance shows the government's intention to secure vital sea lanes in the region, including around the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The 10-member bloc is "extremely important from both the political and economic perspectives," said the white paper, which is set to be submitted to the Cabinet on Friday.