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China hits out at Philippine bill on Spratly claims

Philippine lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill spelling out its claims in the South China Sea, whose islands are claimed in whole or in part by a host of Asian nations.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 18, 2009
China on Wednesday slammed the Philippines for laying claim to parts of the disputed Spratly Islands, calling the move a violation of Chinese sovereignty.

"The government of the People's Republic of China has indisputable sovereignty over these islands and their adjacent waters," said a statement issued by the foreign ministry.

The statement took exception to Philippine claims on Huangyan Island -- also known as Scarborough Shoal -- and other parts of the Spratlys, which are known in China as the Nansha islands.

"Claims to territory sovereignty over Huangyan Island and the Nansha Islands by any other country are all illegal and invalid," the statement said.

Philippine lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill spelling out its claims in the South China Sea, whose islands are claimed in whole or in part by a host of Asian nations.

The legislation, however, also acknowledges rival claims.

Included within the Philippine claims are the Scarborough Shoal, also claimed by China, and part of the Spratly chain, also claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China's official Xinhua news agency said Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya summoned the charge d'affaires of the Philippine embassy in Beijing on Wednesday to lodge a "stern protest" over the bill.

There was no immediate mention of any retaliatory measures.

The islands sit astride vital sea lanes and may contain significant oil and gas deposits.

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