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China summons US diplomat in South China Sea row

Published on Aug 5, 2012 3:13 PM
This aerial view of the city of Sansha on an island in the disputed Paracel chain, which China now considers part of Hainan province on July 27, 2012. China has appointed military officers at a newly-established garrison in the South China Sea, state media reported on July 27 in the country's latest step to bolster claims to disputed islands in the area. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - China has summoned a senior US diplomat over American criticism of Beijing's decision to set up a new military garrison in the South China Sea, in an escalating row over the tense waters.

Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng called in the US embassy's deputy chief of mission Robert Wang on Saturday, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It came the same day Beijing publicly lashed out after the US said China had raised tensions in the region with the announcement late last month it had established a new city and garrison in the disputed Paracel islands. Mr Zhang told Mr Wang that US State Department remarks on Friday "sent a seriously wrong message", echoing the strong public criticisms.

"The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction of and firm opposition to it. We urge the US side to correct its mistaken ways, respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity." Mr Zhang urged Mr Wang to convey Beijing's message to the "highest level" of the US government, the statement said.

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