Vietnam condemns China's sea claims as "serious violation"
HANOI/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Vietnam condemned on Tuesday China's claims to disputed South China Sea islands as a serious violation of its sovereignty after saying it was setting up patrols to protect its fisheries and accusing Chinese boats of sabotage.
The condemnation of China's claims to the sea and its numerous reefs and tiny islands was the strongest yet from Vietnam since tension flared this year and came after India declared itself ready to send navy ships to safeguard its interests in the disputed waters.
Claims by an increasingly powerful China over most of the South China Sea have set it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the mineral-rich waters.
Vietnam's condemnation came a day after its state oil and gas company, Petrovietnam, accused Chinese boats of sabotaging an exploration operation by cutting a seismic cable being towed behind a Vietnamese boat.
Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the cable cutting as well as some recent Chinese provincial regulations that identified the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands as Chinese, and a map that did the same thing.
"The actions of the Chinese side have seriously violated Vietnam's sovereignty over the two archipelagos," the spokesman, Luong Thanh Nghi, said in a statement.
Vietnamese Foreign Ministry officials met representatives of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi on Monday, Nghi said.
The Vietnamese officials handed over a diplomatic note "resolutely opposing the above mentioned actions by the Chinese side, asking China to respect Vietnam's sovereignty, to immediately stop such wrongful acts and not to repeat similar actions."
Earlier, Vietnam said civilian-led patrols, backed by marine police and a border force, would be deployed from January 25 to stop foreign vessels violating fishing laws in Vietnam's waters. Continued...