China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival
claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan,
Malaysia and Brunei.
"He (Kerry) said China's introduction of an oil rig and numerous
government vessels in waters disputed with Vietnam was provocative,"
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
"He urged both sides to de-escalate tensions, ensure safe conduct by
their vessels at sea, and resolve the dispute through peaceful means
in accordance with international law."
China's foreign ministry said there certainly had been provocative
moves in the South China Sea, but that China was not the guilty
party and repeated that it was the United States' fault for
encouraging such behavior.
"We hope that the U.S. side can carefully reflect - if they really
hope for the Pacific Ocean to be peaceful, what kind of role do they
actually want to play?" spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news
Hua said that Wang urged Kerry to "objectively and fairly" look at
the South China Sea issue, and "act and speak cautiously".
Tensions rose in the resource-rich South China Sea last week after
China positioned the giant oil rig in an area also claimed by
Vietnam. Each country accused the other of ramming its ships near
the disputed Paracel Islands.
In separate remarks to visiting Singapore Foreign Minister K.
Shanmugam, Kerry said the United States was deeply concerned by
China's "aggressive act" in the dispute.
"We are particularly concerned - all nations that are engaged in
navigation and traffic within the South China Sea, the East China
Sea, are deeply concerned about this aggressive act," Kerry said in
the Monday meeting.
"We want to see a code of conduct created; we want to see this
resolved peacefully through the Law of the Sea, through arbitration,
through any other means, but not direct confrontation and aggressive
action," Kerry added, according to a transcript of his comments
released by the State Department.
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Speaking to fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations at a summit on Sunday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said
Vietnam had acted with "utmost restraint" and used all means of
dialogue to request China remove the rig.
Dung said China was slandering his country and committing dangerous
However the communiqué issued at the end of the summit by the
10-nation ASEAN group contained no criticism of China.
Vietnamese state media said that Vietnamese and Chinese ships had
again used water cannon on each other on Monday, though there were
Chinese spokeswoman Hua would neither confirm nor deny the new
face-off, repeating that China was urging Vietnam to "end its
provocative actions" and withdraw its ships.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING, Hanoi newsroom and Eric M.
Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Clarence Fernandez; Editing by Nick
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