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US, China spar again on South China Sea disputes

Published on May 13, 2014 7:08 PM

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (REUTERS) - China hit back at the United States over the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, after US Secretary of State John Kerry said recent Chinese moves in the waters were "provocative".

Tensions rose in the resource-rich sea last week after China moved a giant oil rig into an area also claimed by Vietnam. Each country accused the other of ramming its ships near the disputed Paracel Islands.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

"He (Kerry) said China's introduction of an oil rig and numerous government vessels in waters disputed with Vietnam was provocative," US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said. "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."

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