Beijing: China has begun combat-ready patrolling of waters around disputed group of islands in the South China Sea, the country`s defence ministry has said.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the move comes amid rising tensions between China and its neighbours over the disputed islands in the resource-rich area.
Asked about what China would do in response to Vietnamese air patrols over the Spratly Islands, the ministry`s spokesman, Geng Yansheng, said China would "resolutely oppose any militarily provocative behavior".
"In order to protect national sovereignty and our security and development interests, the Chinese military has already set up a normal, combat-ready patrol system in seas under our control," he said.
"The Chinese military`s resolve and will to defend territorial sovereignty and protect our maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable," Geng added.