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China says navy drills not linked to sea disputes
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 30, 2011

China has said a series of recent naval drills are "routine" and unrelated to simmering tensions in the South China Sea involving a range of nations with competing territorial claims.

When asked about the six military exercises staged by the Chinese navy in June, including a joint drill with Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin, defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun urged the media not to speculate about their purpose.

"China hopes all parties will treat the Chinese navy's normal exercises in an objective and rational way," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Yang as saying Wednesday. He described the drills as "routine arrangements".

He said China expects all countries involved in the South China Sea disputes to "make the peace and stability of the region a priority and do more to contribute" to that outcome, according to Xinhua.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea, which is believed to have vast oil and gas deposits, while its shipping lanes are vital for global trade.

Vietnam and the Philippines have in recent months accused China of taking increasingly aggressive actions in staking its claims in the disputed waters and its archipelagos.

In response, China has insisted it wants to resolve territorial disputes peacefully but remains firm in its claims to most of the South China Sea, even waters within the Philippines' economic exclusion zone.

The United States and the Philippines on Tuesday launched 11 days of joint naval exercises in Philippine waters close to the much coveted South China Sea.

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Taiwan protests to Japan after activist boat 'barred'
Taipei (AFP) June 30, 2011 - Taiwan protested to Japan on Thursday after it allegedly blocked a local fishing boat carrying anti-Japan protesters from sailing to a disputed island chain in the East China Sea.

"Diaoyu island is part of our territory and Japan has no right to interfere with our fishing boat's activities in our water," Taipei's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The boat was forced to turn around on Wednesday after being confronted by Japanese patrol vessels near the group of islands, called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China and Taiwan, according to Taiwan's coast guard.

It was the latest of a series of incidents in recent years in which Japanese patrol craft have confronted Taiwanese activists trying to sail to the disputed area to press Taipei's claim.

China, Japan and Taiwan all claim the island chain, which lies near rich energy deposits.

Last year, Japan forced a Taiwanese protest boat to abort its mission amid a diplomatic row between Beijing and Tokyo after a Chinese trawler collided with two Japanese coastguard vessels.

Tokyo officially recognises Beijing rather than Taipei, but maintains close trade ties with the island.

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Deby hails 'gift from China' bringing energy independence
Ndjamena (AFP) June 29, 2011
Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno on Wednesday proclaimed his country's energy independence as he inaugurated production at an oil refinery which he described a "gift from China". "You have your energy independence. You don't have to go elsewhere to get your oil products. You will even supply the sub-region," he said. "This jewel is a gift from China to which you owe gratitude," the pre ... read more

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