BEIJING (REUTERS) - 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 spokesman 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 dangerous violations.
The communique issued at the end of the summit by the 10-nation ASEAN group contained no criticism of Beijing, however.
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.
US Secretary of State John Kerry met his counterpart from ASEAN member Singapore in Washington on Monday and in a statement before their talks, reiterated US 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.