Kerry calls China action in S. China Sea 'provocative'

In separate remarks to Singapore's visiting Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, Kerry said the United States was deeply concerned by China's "aggressive act" in the dispute.

Kerry calls China action in S. China Sea 'provocative'

World Bulletin / News Desk

The United States sees China's introduction of an oil rig and several government vessels in waters disputed with Vietnam as "provocative", U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told China's foreign minister in a telephone call on Monday.

"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," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

In separate remarks to Singapore's visiting 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.

Singapore's Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said Singapore also wanted progress in talks with China aimed at establishing a maritime Code of Conduct, which have made little headway so far.

"We do not want tension," he said. "We need a situation where parties resolve their disputes and differences in a way that's acceptable to all."

China urges Kerry to be 'objective'

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed the South China Sea dispute with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and urged him to speak and act cautiously, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Wang urged Kerry to be objective, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing.

Tensions rose in the resource-rich South China Sea last week after China positioned a giant oil rig in an area also claimed by Vietnam. Each country accused the other of ramming its ships near the disputed Paracel Islands.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. It also has a separate maritime dispute with Japan.

Vietnam tactics 'will fail'

China's foreign ministry said on Monday Vietnam's efforts to garner support over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea would fail, a day after Southeast Asian leaders meeting for a regional summit in Myanmar refrained from criticising Beijing.

"The facts prove that Vietnam is trying to rope in other parties and put pressure on China, (but) will not achieve its aims," China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news conference.

"We hope that Vietnam can see the situation clearly, calmly face up to reality, and stop harassing the Chinese operations."

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 violations.

The communique issued at the end of the summit by the 10-nation ASEAN group contained no criticism of Beijing, however.

Hundreds of Vietnamese rallied in their country's biggest cities on Sunday to denounce China, in rare protests that looked likely to prolong the tense stand-off.

U.S. 'stoking tensions'

China last week blamed the United States for stoking tension in the South China Sea by encouraging countries to engage in dangerous behaviour.

However, Hua said that media should not hype up the situation. China and ASEAN "have the ability and determination to jointly maintain regional peace and stability", she said.

Hua said that China "paid great attention" to the protests, and had asked Vietnam to take all available measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and organisations in Vietnam.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival claims to parts or all of the oil and gas rich waters from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

China's relations with the Philippines have become increasingly strained in recent weeks due to tensions over the disputed Spratly Islands.

A week ago, the Philippines seized a Chinese fishing boat and its crew off Half Moon Shoal in the Spratlys. The incident occurred while Philippine and U.S. forces were conducting joint exercises.

Philippine police said the boat and its crew were seized for hunting sea turtles, which are protected under local laws.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Mayıs 2014, 11:30
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