Vietnam plans live-fire drill after China dispute

China had accused Vietnam of endangering its fishermen`s lives.

Hanoi: A squabble over territory
in the South China Sea escalated on Friday when Vietnam announced
a live ammunition drill in an apparent response to China`s
demand that the Vietnamese halt all oil exploration in the

The verbal clash between the two communist neighbours
follows a similar one between China and Philippines earlier in
the week over another area of the South China Sea, where
several countries are eyeing potentially rich oil and gas

The disputes generally pit China against its
neighbours and have pulled in the United States, which has
said it considers some of China`s sea claims to be an
infringement of international waters and a possible damper on
international trade.

Vietnam said it would carry out two exercises
totalling nine hours Monday in an area off the country`s
central Quang Nam province.

The announcement on the website of the state-owned
Northern Maritime Safety Corp warned boats and ships to stay
out of the area.

It was the first time Vietnam has issued such an alert
about conducting live-fire maritime drills.

It came a day after China and Vietnam traded
diplomatic punches, with each demanding that the other stay
out of waters they claim.

China had accused Vietnam of endangering its
fishermen`s lives.

Earlier Thursday, Vietnam slammed China for
interfering with its seismic survey off the central Vietnamese
coast, saying the Chinese fishing boat supported by two patrol
boats had damaged an exploration cable on the state-owned
Vietnamese research boat.

Vietnam said it was the second time China had hindered
the operation of an oil and gas exploration boat in two weeks,
adding that its actions were "completely premeditated" and
accusing it of flaring regional tensions in the South China


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