China hits out at ASEAN for backing Vietnam in SCS conflict

China on Monday lashed out at the ASEAN for backing Vietnam over tensions in the South China Sea sparked by Beijing`s deployment of an oil rig in disputed waters and asked the 10-member grouping to stay neutral to avoid "detrimental" impact on bilateral ties.

PTI| Last Updated: May 19, 2014, 17:14 PM IST

Beijing: China on Monday lashed out at the ASEAN for backing Vietnam over tensions in the South China Sea sparked by Beijing`s deployment of an oil rig in disputed waters and asked the 10-member grouping to stay neutral to avoid "detrimental" impact on bilateral ties.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei sharply criticised ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh`s comments that China has encroached upon Vietnam`s territorial integrity and violated the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

He said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should not take sides in the South China Sea row.

Minh had earlier said China should withdraw the rig to bring down the tensions.

Reacting Minh`s comments, Hong told a media briefing here that the current dispute is not a matter between China and the ASEAN. However, Le has taken sides to advocate a particular country`s claims, sending out wrong signals, regardless of facts or the ASEAN`s position.

He said such actions are not something the secretary-general of the ASEAN should do, and are also detrimental to the development of China-ASEAN ties, he said.

Defending Beijing`s move to deploy the rig, Hong said the maritime row between China and Vietnam has arisen because the Vietnamese side mobilised ships to forcibly disrupt China`s normal operations on its offshore oil rig.

China demands the ASEAN to detach itself from the disputes, and to safeguard China-ASEAN ties with concrete actions, Hong said.

China, which blamed Vietnam for instigating the riots, said two of its citizens were killed and over 100 injured but unofficial reports said 21 people were killed in the attacks on the Chinese units.

China has reportedly made over USD two billion investments across the border in Vietnam to take advantage of the cheap labour costs.

The two countries have a healthy USD 50 billion bilateral trade which now seems to under threat due sudden dip in the bilateral ties.

China has put out advisories to its citizens cautioning them against travelling to Vietnam.

Besides South China Sea tensions, some say that low wages may have also contributed the fury of Vietnamese.

Vietnam officials meanwhile denied lack of action against the rioters and insisted that action was taken immediately.

Meanwhile, China evacuated over 4,000 remaining Chinese workers from Vietnamese province following anti-China riots leaving a big question mark over the future of over 460 Chinese factories which came under attack from Vietnamese protestors last week as the two Communist neighbours were caught in an intractable dispute over South China Sea waters.

China had evacuated over 3000 workers in the last two days.