WHITE HOUSE — The White House has described as a provocative act China's decision to put an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, and is warning Beijing not to raise tensions in the region.
China's decision to place an oil rig in a disputed area of the South China Sea has triggered protests in Vietnam. On Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney had a message for Beijing.
“We consider that act provocative and we consider it one that undermines the goal that we share, which is peaceful resolution of these disputes and general stability in the region," said Carney.
The White House condemnation came one day after a top Chinese military official visited the Pentagon and indicated Chinese forces do not intend to back down.
U.S. officials say China's decision to dispatch numerous government vessels to the area threatens stability, and he called for restraint on both sides.
"We're very concerned about dangerous conduct and intimidation by government-controlled assets operating in this area and we call on all parties to conduct themselves in a safe and professional manner," said Carney.
China and Vietnam have a longstanding dispute over control of parts of the South China Sea.
The latest incident is fueling Washington's concerns about China's increasingly assertive claims in the region. Last month, President Barack Obama traveled to Asia to reassure U.S. allies in the region that Washington stands by its commitments to help defend them.
He also reaffirmed the United States will take a more active role in the region, an action China says is encouraging Vietnam and others to confront Beijing.