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China, Vietnam eye joint development of South China Sea
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 15, 2011

US appeals for calm over South China Sea
Washington Oct 14, 2011 - The United States appealed for calm Friday after Taiwan apparently prepared to deploy missiles in the South China Sea over concerns that rival claimants to disputed islands are building up their arms. "We encourage all claimants to resolve their disputes through peaceful means, in accordance with international law and without resorting to the threat or use of force," Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters. Taiwan's defense minister Kao Hua-chu endorsed a proposal passed by the country's defense committee Wednesday demanding coastguard units in Taiping and the Pratas islands -- claimed by China -- be armed with Chaparral or Tien Chien I missiles. China claims all of the South China Sea, including hundreds of Spratly islands and reefs. Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, China, Malaysia and the Philippines claim all or part of the Spratlys, which could lie on top of large oil reserves. The Taiwanese coastguard currently has a 130-strong garrison on Taiping, the biggest island in the Spratlys archipelago.

China and Vietnam want to discuss joint development of the South China Sea, state media reported on Saturday as Vietnamese communist party head Nguyen Phu Trong wrapped up a visit.

The potentially oil-rich waters are at the centre of a territorial dispute between the neighbours.

"The leaders of the two (communist) parties and countries will keep frequent communication and dialogue on the maritime issues," according to the text of a joint statement quoted by Xinhua news agency.

"Both sides will seek steady progress in negotiations regarding the maritime demarcation of the bay mouth of the Beibu Gulf (Gulf of Tonkin) and discuss the joint development of the sea area," the statement said.

"Neither side shall allow any hostile force to destroy the relations between the two parties and the two countries," it said.

China and Vietnam have a long-standing dispute over sovereignty of the Paracel and Spratly island groups, which are in oil-rich waters straddling vital commercial shipping lanes in the South China Sea.

In July a Chinese warship confronted an Indian naval vessel in waters off Vietnam and demanded it to explain its presence.

China says it has sovereignty over essentially all of the South China Sea, a key global trading route, where its professed ownership of the Spratly archipelago overlaps with claims by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

Vietnam and the Philippines have reported a rising number of incidents with China, citing in particular harassment of their fishermen by Chinese vessels.

The United States also made an appeal for calm Friday after reports that Taiwan was preparing to deploy missiles in the South China Sea.

Beijing routinely rejects US "interference" in the region and says it intends to resolve its territorial disputes on a bilateral basis with the countries concerned.

Trong's visit to China was his first since he was appointed in January as secretary general of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

The two communist countries, which fought a brief border war in 1979 before normalising relations in 1991, also agreed to strengthen cooperation against illegal border crossings, Xinhua reported.

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Philippines unfazed by Taiwan Spratlys missile plan
Manila (AFP) Oct 16, 2011 - The Philippines said Sunday it was prepared to defend its claims in the South China Sea, but downplayed a plan by Taiwan to deploy missiles in the area.

Defence department spokesman Zosimo Jesus Paredes said the country enjoyed good relations with Taiwan and believed its plan to supply missiles to coastguard units in the areas it claims was not a threat to the Philippines.

"We cannot dictate on Taiwan on what or what not to do," Paredes told reporters. "For as long as they don't occupy what we already occupy, we have no problem. Live and let live."

However, he said Manila was prepared to "defend to the hilt" islets it has already occupied in the Spraltys. He did not elaborate.

China claims all of the South China Sea, including the Spratlys, a group of islands and islets believed to sit atop vast oil and mineral reserves.

Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines and Malaysia also lay claim to all or part of the Spratlys.

The overlapping claims have been a source of tension in the region, with the United States reiterating a call to all parties last week to peacefully solve the problem following Taiwan's threat.


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