Wednesday, May 29, 2013

China defiant over its sea claims

China on Tuesday said the security and stability of the South China Sea should not be undermined after the Philippines demanded withdrawal of Chinese warships from the Second Thomas Shoal and Vietnam accused a Chinese patrol ship of damaging one its fishing boats around the Paracel Islands.

Last week, the Philippine foreign ministry filed a diplomatic protest over the continued presence of three Chinese government vessels near Second Thomas Shoal.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei hoped actions would not be taken that undermine the security of the South China Sea.

"It is beyond reproach for Chinese boats to carry out ordinary patrols in these waters. We hope the relevant parties will abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and refrain from taking actions that complicate and exaggerate the situation and undermine the stability and security of the South China sea," said Hong.

Three ships, including a Chinese navy frigate, were first spotted in the area around May 8, escorting a fleet of 30 fishing boats from Hainan province. Until Monday (May 27), two maritime surveillance vessels remained near the shoal.

"The accusation made against China by Vietnam is completely inconsistent with the facts. The Vietnamese fishing boat entered China's Xisha Islands (Paracel Islands) and conducted illegal fishing activities, severely violating Chinese sovereignty and Chinese laws. It is totally beyond reproach for relevant departments of China to take normal law enforcement measures. We urge the Vietnamese side to take effective measures to educate its fishermen so as to stop such illegal fishing activities," Hong said.

A statement on the Vietnamese foreign ministry's website said that a Chinese patrol boat had slammed into a Vietnamese fishing boat while it was fishing in the Vietnamese territory of the Paracel Islands on May 20.

Claims by an increasingly powerful China over most of the South China Sea have set it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines. Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the waters and China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.-ABS-CBN News

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