US seeks clarification of new China sea laws

Posted at 12/05/2012 5:54 PM | Updated as of 12/05/2012 5:54 PM

BEIJING - U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke said on Wednesday that the United States is seeking clarification on China's recent announcement that its police could board vessels in the disputed South China Sea.

The rules, which China announced last week, are unclear as to their extent and purpose, Locke told Reuters in an interview.

"The U.S. government very much wants clarification of what these rules mean, how they will be interpreted by the Hainan government and marine enforcement agencies and the purpose of these rules," Locke said on the sidelines of an investment forum in Beijing.

"It is really unclear, I think, to most nations," Locke said. "First we need clarification of the extent, the purpose and the reach of these regulations."

China lays claim to almost all of the vast sea, where Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Thailand also claim territories.

The South China Sea, which is criss-crossed by crucial shipping lanes, is rich in gas and oil deposits.