Beijing summoned a US diplomat over remarks critical of China, sending both countries into a diplomatic row over waters in the South China Sea. Chinese officials and local media have sent a barrage of comebacks at the US, reports the Asahi Shimbun.

Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng summoned US Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Wang to protest against a State Department statement which described China’s construction of a military garrison in the disputed islands as “counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences,” and an act which would “risk further escalating tensions in the region”.

Zhang claimed the US statement “disregarded 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”.

Ministry spokesman Qin Gang justified the naming of a city in the islands saying that China had ‘absolute sovereignty’. Local media attacked US neutrality and accused the military power of ‘diving a wedge’ between China and its neighbors.