WASHINGTON May 9 Six U.S. senators urged their
colleagues on Friday to support legislation reaffirming U.S.
support for freedom of navigation, saying they consider China's
recent actions in the South China Sea troubling.
China this week accused Vietnam of intentionally colliding
with its ships in the South China Sea after Vietnam asserted
that Chinese vessels used water cannon and rammed eight of its
vessels during the weekend near an oil rig China deployed in a
"These actions threaten the free flow of global commerce in
a vital region," Democratic Senators Robert Menendez of New
Jersey, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Patrick Leahy of Vermont and
Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, Jim Risch of Idaho and John
McCain of Arizona said in a joint statement.
China's movement of the rig and "subsequent aggressive
tactics" by its ships are "deeply troubling," they said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the United States on
Friday of stoking tensions in the disputed region.
China claims almost of the 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.
The six senators introduced a resolution in April affirming
U.S. support for freedom of navigation in the region and urging
the parties involved in any territorial disputes to seek
peaceful democratic resolutions.
Separately on Friday, U.S. Representative Eliot Engel of New
York, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign
Affairs Committee, termed China's action "needless
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)