BEIJING Aug 5 China's Foreign Ministry has
called in a senior U.S. diplomat to protest remarks by the U.S.
State Department raising concerns over tensions in the disputed
South China Sea, in the latest political spat between the two
In a statement released late on Saturday, China's Foreign
Ministry said Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng summoned
the U.S. Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Wang to make
"serious representations" about the issue.
The State Department on Friday said it was monitoring the
situation in the seas closely, adding that China's establishing
of a military garrison for the area runs "counter to
collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk
further escalating tensions in the region".
The South China Sea has become Asia's biggest potential
military flashpoint as Beijing's sovereignty claim over the huge
area has set it against Vietnam and the Philippines as the three
countries race to tap possibly huge oil reserves.
Beijing and Washington are already at odds over numerous
issues, including the value of China's currency, Tibet and
Zhang said the U.S. statement "disregarded the facts,
confused right with wrong, sent a seriously wrong signal and did
not help with efforts by relevant parties to maintain peace and
stability in the South China Sea or the Asia Pacific.
"China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute
opposition, urges the U.S. side to immediately to mend the error
of its ways, earnestly respect China's sovereignty and
territorial integrity and do more to genuinely benefit stability
and prosperity in the Asia Pacific," he added.
A separate statement by ministry spokesman Qin Gang repeated
that China had absolute sovereignty over the sea and its myriad
islands and had every right to formally set up a city to
administer the region, which it did last month.
"Why does the U.S. turn a blind eye to the facts that
certain countries opened a number of oil and gas blocks, and
issued domestic laws illegally appropriating Chinese islands and
waters?" Qin said.
"Why does the U.S. avoid talking about the threats of
military vessels to Chinese fishermen by certain countries and
their unjustified claims of sovereignty rights over Chinese
islands?" he added.
In all, six parties have rival claims to the waters, which
were a central issue at an acrimonious ASEAN regional summit
last month that ended with its members failing to agree on a
concluding statement for the first time in 45 years.
The stakes have risen in the area as the U.S. military
shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its
long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a
bolder stance against Beijing.
The United States has stressed it is neutral in the
long-running maritime dispute, despite offering to help boost
the Philippines' decrepit military forces. It says freedom of
navigation is its main concern about a waterway that carries $5
trillion in trade -- half the world's shipping tonnage.