Beijing: Amid rising tensions between China and its neighbours over the disputed territories in the South China Sea, Beijing on Tuesday sent four surveillance ships to the area also claimed by Vietnam after spotting a foreign fishing vessel there.
The ships reached the Nansha islands, at the centre of the disputed areas, this morning when radar suggested the presence of a foreign fishing vessel nearby.
According to the team, Chinese patrol staff immediately broadcast a statement in Chinese, English and Vietnamese to proclaim sovereignty of the Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands also claimed by Vietnam, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Yesterday, the team conducted a formation practice near Yongshu Reef in the South China Sea. The two-hour practice session was fulfilled smoothly but a helicopter scheduled to take part did not do so, due to adverse weather.
The ships reached Huayang Reef, a coral reef in the Nansha Islands, on Sunday and anchored northeast of Yongshu Reef on Sunday evening.
Since taking off from south China`s coastal city of Sanya on June 26, the team has sailed more than 2,000 nautical miles.
China rushed the ships to the islands after Vietnam passed a new law in its parliament asserting the islands are part of its Exclusive Economic Zone, (EEZ).
China immediately protested and summoned Vietnamese Ambassador here and conveyed its resentment over the move by Hanoi.
Vietnam referred to the islands Spratly islands and sent two Russian-made Su-27 fighters to conduct a "patrol flight" over the disputed islands.
China has a similar dispute going with Philippines on another island.
The scores of islands in the South China Sea over which Beijing lays claim were also claimed by other countries.
Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan assert many of them formed part of their Exclusive Economic Zone. Whereas China asserts that they were all inherent part of its maritime waters.