WASHINGTON – Several U.S. lawmakers on Friday criticized China for its “deeply troubling” actions in disputed areas of the South China Sea, and urged passage of legislation that seeks peaceful solutions to rising maritime tensions.
Neighbors China and Vietnam have seen tensions soar since Beijing recently announced it would move a drilling rig into contested waters.
Several collisions in the area have been recorded between Chinese and Vietnamese ships, with each side blaming the other.
“China’s recent movement of an oil drilling rig escorted by military and other ships into disputed waters in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam — and the subsequent aggressive tactics used by Chinese ships, including the ramming of Vietnamese ships — is deeply troubling,” the senators said in a statement. “These actions threaten the free flow of global commerce in a vital region.”
The bipartisan group of six lawmakers, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, are sponsors of a nonbinding resolution introduced in April that condemns the use of force and advocates a peaceful resolution of territorial and maritime claims.