Chinese ships begin patrolling disputed South China Sea areas
Beijing: China's marine surveillance ships today began patrolling the disputed South China Sea, implementing a controversial order to border police to board and search ships entering disputed areas which Beijing considers its territorial waters.
China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said its two vessels aided by a surveillance aircraft patrolled waters near the Beibu Gulf of the South China Sea, where Vietnam recently complained of harassment of Chinese vessels obstructing its survey ship.
One of the oil platforms, Ledong 22-1, told patrolling fleet that no oil leak had taken place, nor had they been harassed by foreign vessels lately, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Early last month Petro Vietnam alleged that Chinese fishing boats sabotaged one of its seismic survey ships 69 km from the small island of Con Co in the South China Sea.
It said two Chinese fishing boats had cut across cables being laid by the survey vessel Binh Minh 2 off the coast of central Vietnam.
Reacting to Hanoi's allegation Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei told media here on Dec 6 that "Vietnam's allegation is inconsistent with facts".
"To our knowledge the sea area claimed by Vietnam is in the overlapping areas between China's Hainan island and Vietnam and our side Beibu Gulf," he said.
In November last year the local legislature of China's Hainan authorised provincial border police to board or seize foreign ships that illegally enter the province's waters and order them to change course or stop sailing from January 1.
According to the order activities such as entering the island province's waters without permission, damaging coastal defence facilities, and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal, excerpts of the order published in the official media at that time said.
If foreign ships or crew members violate the regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communications systems, under the revised regulations, the orders said.
China virtually claims ownership to the entire South China Sea.
Besides Vietnam; Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan too have disputes with China over the disputed islands in the South China Sea as well as the extent of territorial waters.
Philippines and Vietnam have raised objections over the maps printed in China's e-passports claiming the sovereignty over the disputed areas.