Friday, 22 June 2012

China warns Vietnam over disputed waters

On Thursday 21 June, in a new show of its resolve over the South China Sea dispute Beijing warned Vietnam for passing a law that claims sovereignty over the oil-rich Paracel and Spratly Islands, saying they are the ''indisputable'' territory of China.

China's Foreign Ministry in Beijing called on Vietnam's ambassador Nguyen Van Tho to oppose the new law. A ministry statement said: “'Vietnam's Maritime Law, declaring sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Paracel and Spratly Islands, is a serious violation of China's territorial sovereignty…China expresses its resolute and vehement opposition.''

Vietnam's National Assembly approved the law on Thursday, stipulating that all foreign naval ships passing through the waters are required to notify Vietnamese authorities. The dispute about the law, which has been in the making for years, is yet another one of China's attempts to tell Vietnam that the South China Sea is its rightful domain.

China's statement comes two weeks ahead a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which will be attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The South China Sea dispute is expected to be high on the agenda.

To fortify its claims, China has also raised the level of governance on three island groups in the sea: the Spratlys, the Paracels and Macclesfield Bank. The Chinese State Council issued a statement placing the three groups of islands and their surrounding waters under the city of Sansha as a prefectural-level administration rather than a lower county-level administration.

Sources: Upstream, Bloomberg, The New York Times

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