China warns Vietnam over South China Sea islands



Beijing: Deploying its maritime vessels for patrolling in the disputed South China Sea, China has asked Vietnam not to implement its new maritime law, affirming sovereignty over the contested islands and cautioned Hanoi that the move would escalate bilateral tensions.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunyang in a statement here urged Vietnam to refrain from taking any actions that complicate and escalate issues between the two countries, as the Vietnamese maritime law came into effective from yesterday.

Hua stressed China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands called by China Xisha and Nansha Islands and Paracel islands by Vietnam.

"Any claim raised by any other country and any action taken by any other nation to territorial sovereignty over the islands and waters are illegal and invalid," Hua said, adding China is deeply concerned about the negative impact of the implementation of the law.

In June, the Vietnam National Assembly passed the "Vietnamese Law of the Sea," describing the Islands as being within Vietnam's sovereignty and jurisdiction.

Consequently Vietnam had set up a fishery bureau with powers to maritime patrol, check the ships of other countries and investigate any violations.

To counter Hanoi's move China's Hainan Province passed a regulation related to ocean security, affirming China's stand to protect its maritime security.

Under this, several measures can be taken against foreign ships that illegally enter China's territory.

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.

Yesterday, Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency reported China's marine surveillance ships began patrolling the South China Sea implementing the order authorising its border Police to board and search ships entering the area considered as its territorial waters.

China's State Oceanic Administration said its vessels Haijian 75 and Haijian 84, aided by the surveillance aircraft B-3843 patrolled waters near the Beibu Gulf of the South China Sea, where Vietnam recently complained of harassment of Chinese vessels obstructing its survey ship. China virtually claims ownership to the entire South China Sea.

Besides Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have disputes with China over the disputed islands in the South China Sea as well as the extent of territorial waters. The Philippines and Vietnam have raised objections over the maps printed in China's e-passports claiming the sovereignty over the disputed areas.

PTI