Following the rising tensions in the South China Sea over China’s deployment of a large oil rig in waters that Vietnam claims, the United States and China continue their war of words. The deployment of the rig, has led to both Vietnam and China accusing the other of ramming its ships and in the case of China, using water cannons of Vietnamese vessels.

China

Vietnam is not alone in its disputes over the South China Sea. The Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei each have disputes with Beijing over territorial waters. Secretary of State John Kerry has called the moves by the Chinese as provocative.

“He (Kerry) said China’s introduction of an oil rig and numerous government vessels in waters disputed with Vietnam was provocative,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, referring to a telephone call between Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. North Korea was also discussed in the telephone conversation.

“He urged both sides to de-escalate tensions, ensure safe conduct by their vessels at sea, and resolve the dispute through peaceful means in accordance with international law,” continued Psaki.

China is blameless

China responded to Kerry’s comments being made public by admitting that there have been provocations in the South China Sea but that China was blameless and that the United States was encouraging Vietnam’s involvement in the skirmishes.

“We hope that the U.S. side can carefully reflect – if they really hope for the Pacific Ocean to be peaceful, what kind of role do they actually want to play?” spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

Hua said that Wang urged Kerry to “objectively and fairly” look at the South China Sea issue, and “act and speak cautiously”.

China believes that the issue lies between the two countries and that is should be resolved with direct talks between the two (five) nations without the United States needing to involve itself.

To add insult to China’s perceived injury, Kerry recently told visiting  Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam that the U.S was very concerned by China’s “aggressive act”.

“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 yesterday.

“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,” Kerry added, according to a transcript of his comments released by the State Department.

China says that the South China Sea issue should be resolved via direct talks between the parties concerned, and has bristled at what it sees as unwarranted U.S. interference.

“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 in the Monday meeting.

“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,” Kerry added, according to a transcript of his comments released by the State Department.

North Korea discussion

Despite these criticisms of each other, the two nations are seemingly on the same page with regards to North Korea after it renewed its threat to detonate another atomic device. North Korea last carried out a nuclear test in February 2013.

“China is committed to realizing denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation,” Wang was cited as saying in a statement posted to the ministry’s website.