UN urges calm from Vietnam, China in disputed waters

A Chinese ship (right) uses a water cannon on a Vietnamese Sea Guard ship on the South China Sea near the Paracels islands, in this handout photo taken on May 3, 2014 and released by the Vietnamese Marine Guard on May 8, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
A Chinese ship (right) uses a water cannon on a Vietnamese Sea Guard ship on the South China Sea near the Paracels islands, in this handout photo taken on May 3, 2014 and released by the Vietnamese Marine Guard on May 8, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called on China and Vietnam to "exercise the utmost restraint" in the South China Sea, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said on Friday.

Mr Ban "noted with concern the escalating tensions in the South China Sea, in particular between China and Vietnam," the spokesman said in a brief statement.

"He urges the parties concerned to exercise the utmost restraint and resolve their dispute in a peaceful manner, through dialogue and in conformity with international law, including the UN Charter."

Tensions between the communist neighbours have risen sharply since Beijing unilaterally announced last week it would move a drilling rig into disputed waters.

Over the last several days, the area around the drilling well has seen several collisions between Chinese and Vietnamese ships, with each side blaming the other for the rise in tensions.