By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING | Sun Aug 5, 2012 11:25am EDT
(Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry has called in a senior U.S. diplomat to protest against remarks by the U.S. State Department raising concerns over tensions in the contested South China Sea, further intensifying an already fraught territorial dispute.
In a statement released late on Saturday, China's Foreign Ministry said Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng summoned the U.S. Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Wang to make "serious representations" about the issue.
The State Department on Friday said it was monitoring the situation in the seas closely, adding that China's establishment of a military garrison for the area runs "counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk further escalating tensions in the region".
Zhang said the U.S. statement "disregarded the facts, confused right with wrong, sent a seriously wrong signal and did not help with efforts by relevant parties to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea or the Asia Pacific."