U.S. welcomes Chinese rig movement

Further action needed to settle claims, U.S. says.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  July 17, 2014 at 10:18 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- The row between China and Vietnam over an oil rig in contested waters highlights the need to find a solution in international law, the U.S. government said.

China National Petroleum Corp. announced it completed drilling and exploration activity in waters of the South China Sea disputed with Vietnam and pulled its rig out of the area.

The May deployment of the CNPC rig sparked international concerns over China's claims to regional maritime territory. The U.S. government said it had no stance on territorial jurisdiction, but viewed Chinese actions as provocative.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the government welcomed the announcement the rig had left controversial waters.

"The oil rig incident has highlighted the need for claimants to clarify their claims in accordance with international law to reach a shared understanding on appropriate behavior and activities in disputed areas," she told reporters during her regular press briefing Wednesday.

China and Vietnam made competing claims over the territory. Vietnam accused China of harassing its vessels in the region, though Beijing countered the government in Hanoi was playing the victim.

Though there is a long diplomatic track record on the issue, Psaki said she wasn't going to speculate on China's reasons for redeploying the rig.

"We have expressed our same concerns publicly as we have privately," she added.

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