by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 7, 2011
China on Tuesday accused the Philippines of harming its maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, in sharp retaliation to claims by Manila that Beijing is undermining regional peace.
The Philippines said over the weekend that China dispatched vessels to intimidate rivals in disputed areas of the South China Sea, violating "maritime jurisdiction" and undermining "the peace and stability of the region."
But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei hit back at the accusations Tuesday, saying the Chinese vessels were merely cruising and carrying out scientific studies in waters under Beijing's jurisdiction.
"China asks the Filipino side to stop harming China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, which leads to unilateral actions that expand and complicate South China Sea disputes," he said.
He also said Manila should stop publishing "irresponsible statements that do not match the facts."
The Paracel archipelago and the more southerly Spratly islands in the South China Sea are both potentially resource-rich outcrops that straddle strategic shipping lanes.
The Philippines, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam claim all or part of the territories in question, and recent renewed tensions drew a warning Saturday from the United States that the disputes could lead to armed conflict.
China and Vietnam are also locked in a dispute related to the sovereignty of the Paracel archipelago and the Spratlys. The diplomatic flare-up even triggered a protest in Hanoi -- a rare occurrence in the country.
earlier related report
Relations between Beijing and Hanoi have grown increasingly tense in the past 10 days over a long-standing dispute related to the sovereignty of the potentially resource-rich Paracel archipelago and the Spratly islands.
"China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly islands and nearby territorial waters," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.
"China and Vietnam reached important consensus many times on how to appropriately handle maritime issues and maintain stability in the South China Sea," he added.
"We hope the Vietnamese side will make earnest efforts to implement the relevant consensus."
The group of around 300 protesters in Hanoi -- bearing signs such as "Protesting against China causing trouble" -- met quietly for half an hour on Sunday before peacefully dispersing, at the request of 50 armed policemen.
In May, Chinese surveillance ships confronted a Vietnamese oil exploration vessel in the South China Sea, which Hanoi deemed to be a violation of its sovereignty and a breach of the UN convention on the law of the sea.
Vietnam accused China of expanding the scope of the dispute and demanded that Beijing pay compensation for damage allegedly inflicted on the Vietnamese vessel. China has told Vietnam to end its activities in the contested waters.
The Paracel archipelago and the more southerly Spratlys in the South China Sea are both potentially resource-rich outcrops that straddle strategic shipping lanes.
The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim all or part of the territories in question, and renewed tensions drew a warning on Saturday from the United States that the disputes could lead to armed conflict.
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Oil down in Asia on fears of higher supply
Singapore (AFP) June 7, 2011
Oil was down in Asian trade Tuesday amid speculation that OPEC may boost crude supplies despite faltering energy demand, analysts said. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for July delivery, lost 54 cents to $98.47 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery dipped 60 cents to $113.88 in the afternoon. "Today the focus will still be on the OPEC meeting, as other countrie ... read more
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