Beijing says US Senate criticism misfires

09:36, June 29, 2011      

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A US Senate resolution critical of Beijing's actions in the South China Sea "doesn't hold water" and its sponsors should promote peace in other ways, China said yesterday.

Disputes over the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully through talks between "directly concerned parties," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

The resolution adopted on Monday by the US Senate deplored China's "use of force" in recent incidents between Chinese vessels and those of other claimants in the potentially resource-rich waters.

The Philippines accuses Chinese vessels of "intruding" into what it considers its waters in recent months, while Vietnam says Chinese vessels have hindered its oil exploration surveys in an area it claims as its economic exclusive zone.

China says it has sovereign rights over the South China Sea.

"The relevant resolution adopted by the US Senate doesn't hold water," Hong said. "We hope the relevant senators can do more to promote peace and stability of the region."

Democratic Senator Jim Webb led a bipartisan group of four senators who introduced the resolution. Webb said Southeast Asian countries were worried about China's "pattern of intimidation," and that the US had a strategic interest in facilitating multilateral negotiations.

Hong said that China wants disputes handled through "friendly consultations" between the parties directly concerned.

"Others without a direct stake should respect the efforts made by those directly concerned to resolve South China Sea disputes through dialogue and in a peaceful manner," he said.

"Freedom of shipping in the South China Sea has never been affected by the disputes, and there has never been such a problem," he added.

More than 1,200 US and Philippines navy personnel, meanwhile, began 11 days of exercises yesterday that will include live-fire drills, tracking and interdiction and patrolling maneuvers in the waters off the western Philippine province of Palawan.

The US Navy has deployed guided missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon and USS Howard, along with diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard and 800 personnel.

Two Philippine navy patrol ships and more than 450 Filipino sailors have joined the exercises, officials said.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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