(Adds U.S. Secretary of State, Singapore's foreign minister,
BEIJING May 12 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.
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.
"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
The communique issued at the end of the summit by the
10-nation ASEAN group contained no criticism of Beijing,
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.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met his counterpart from
ASEAN member Singapore in Washington on Monday and in a
statement before their talks, reiterated U.S. concerns about
what he called China's "challenge to the Paracel Islands".
"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.
"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," he said.
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."
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.
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
Philippine police said the boat and its crew were seized for
hunting sea turtles, which are protected under local laws.
On Monday, a provincial prosecutor filed cases against nine
of the 11 crew and set bail at 70,000 pesos ($1,600) for each of
them, despite demands from Chinese diplomats who went to see the
fishermen and demanded they should be freed.
The Philippines foreign ministry said the other remaining
two crew members would be released as they are minors. They were
turned over to the social welfare department.
Hua has described the Philippines' actions as illegal,
saying the boat and crew were seized in Chinese waters.
Manila says the Chinese boat was seized 60 miles (96
kilometres) off Palawan island, within a 200-mile
(320-kilometre) exclusive economic zone declared by the
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, additional Reporting by Manuel
Mogato in Manila and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by
Simon Cameron-Moore and Marguerita Choy)