Vietnamese protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi earlier this month. Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — China has criticized the top official of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for saying Beijing intruded in Vietnamese territory, and a Chinese official has demanded the group stay out of the dispute.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said the ASEAN secretary-general was sending “wrong signals” about the dispute over China’s deployment of an oil rig to disputed waters in the South China Sea.

The secretary-general, Le Luong Minh, who is Vietnamese, told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that “we have to get China out of the territorial waters of” Vietnam.

“China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to this,” said Hong. “We urge ASEAN to remain neutral (and) not intervene in the dispute.”