The U.S. government this week expressed concern on word a Vietnamese boat capsized this week after it was allegedly rammed by a Chinese vessel near a Chinese oil rig deployed in disputed waters.
The row erupted in early May when China National Offshore Oil Co. sent a rig to an area about 120 miles off the coast of Vietnam.
Visiting U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Chinese action in the region was unacceptable.
"We think the situation is very tense and we have urged China to take actions to de-escalate rather than to provoke through the presence of their military vessels, and their interference with maritime activities," he said during a Wednesday press conference in Hanoi.
Cardin said a resolution on the issue is expected soon on the Senate floor. He reiterated the U.S. position that, while it has no stance on territorial claims, aggression is no way to settle the issue.
Vietnamese officials have said they have a right to defend their national interests. Beijing says it's operating within its territorial waters and has called on Vietnam to stop interfering with its legitimate work in the region.