China strikes back at U.S.'s South China Sea row remarks

BEIJING - In the wake of Vietnamese and Chinese vessels exchanging water cannon fire in the South China Sea’s disputed waters, Beijing's government said Tuesday that the U.S.'s "misinterpretations" incite dangerous and provocative actions.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said at a daily press conference, "There is a country that takes provocative actions in the South China Sea, but it is not China." 

On Monday, Chinese ships and a Vietnamese patrol vessel shot water cannons at each other near a US$1 billion rig owned by China's state-run CNOOC oil company set up earlier this month.

During a press conference later in the day, U.S. State Secretary John Kerry called China's recent actions in the oil-rich seas "aggressive" and expressed deep concern. 

Beijing claims that 90 percent of the oil-and gas-rich South China Sea belongs to China, despite territorial claims by other countries including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

"If it wants the Pacific Ocean to be in real peace, the U.S. must mull over the role it can play in sustaining regional peace and stability," Hua added Tuesday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his U.S. counterpart Kerry had held a phone conversation earlier in the day.

In early May, a collision occurred between Vietnamese Sea Guard vessels and Chinese ships near the oil rig project.  

Vietnam has condemned Beijing's drilling mission in what it claims are "its waters." A U.S. State Department statement had also criticized Beijing's drilling efforts as "provocative and not serving for maintenance of the peace and stability in the region." 

The disputed area between the two communist nations fell under Beijing's control in 1972.

Vietnam has 29 armed naval and coast guard ships near the new platform, which China regards as a "display of power" aimed at forcing it to withdraw the oil platform.

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