State Department Daily Press Briefing
08 May 2014
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Thursday, May 8, 2014
2:40 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Jen Psaki, Spokesperson
Read more: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/05/20140508298991.html?CP.rss=true#ixzz31DMUoJhj
QUESTION: Yeah. I’d like to know if I can get some further comments on you on the increasing tensions between China and Vietnam. So the Chinese pushed back at the notion that there is a clash between China and Vietnam, and they reaffirmed that the disputed area belongs to China. Assistant Secretary Russel, he’s currently in the region, and he said that he discussed this issue at length with the Vietnamese.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Could you elaborate on the message that he conveyed to the Vietnamese about this issue?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I believe he also spoke to this while he was there, which I’m happy to reiterate, and I put out an additional statement last night – or, we put out last night. What Assistant Secretary Russel conveyed is that we don’t take a position on the relative merits of any country’s claim in the South China Sea. But it’s fair to say – and it’s fair to say that both Vietnam and China claim sovereignty over that area, but there is a dispute. It’s not for us to decide which position is stronger, but at the same time we believe that all sides should operate in a way that reduces tensions. And what we’ve seen – and obviously this is what we’ve spoken to – is that the unilateral decision by China to introduce its oil rig into these disputed waters, the dangerous conduct and intimidation by the vessels is concerning and certainly is representative of provocative actions.
QUESTION: And there’s been an escalation recently in activity between the two sides. Is there a concern at the State Department that this could continue to escalate? And what is the State Department prepared to do to help resolve the crisis?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, obviously, we continue to encourage both sides to take – to reduce the rhetoric and to pull back on provocative steps that are causing this level of tension in the region.
QUESTION: Same topic?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Have you been able to ascertain the veracity of the video that the Vietnamese foreign ministry showed to reporters? And have you been able to decide which side – which ships were the – actually the ones doing the ramming, the hostile actions?
MS. PSAKI: Which ships, in terms of whether they’re Chinese or not?
QUESTION: Which – yeah. Whether they were Chinese or – because there’s competing claims. Each side says the other side started it. So do you have any kind of independent —
MS. PSAKI: I think the statement we put out last night and the comments we’ve given make clear we think it’s the Chinese side that is exhibiting provocative actions here.