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Rising conflicts in South China Sea


The South China Sea is a region rich in energy resources. It plays a key role as a major shipping route connecting the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Despite China's legal sovereignty over the waters, other surrounding countries continue to have ambitions towards the strategically important region. CCTV reporter Yuan Xiaoyuan takes a closer look at the disputes unfolding in the South China Sea.

Covering an area of 3.5 million Square Kilometers, the South China Sea is becoming one of Asia's most dangerous flashpoints for conflict.

Tensions started to heat up in recent weeks, as a Vietnamese oil exploration vessel dragged a Chinese fishing boat in the disputed territory, endangering the lives of Chinese fishermen. Vietnam then held a live military drill on the disputed zone, apparently sending a message to China.

Hong Lei, Spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry said, "Some countries take unilateral actions to impair China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. They release groundless and irresponsible remarks attempting to expand and complicate the dispute in the South China Sea."

Surrounding countries have made competing territorial claims over the waters. China has been claiming sovereignty over almost the entire body, including the Xisha and Nansha islands, since ancient times. But most of the islands are not under the China's actual control.

Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia have had their eyes the region since the 1970s. Vietnam now controls 29 reefs and islands, and one million square kilometers of western Nansha. The Philippines occupies northeastern Nansha, while Malaysia has the Southwest.

The discovery in recent years of new oil and natural gas resources has added fuel to the campaigns for exploitation. And propaganda is used at home to arose patriotic support for the illegally occupied territories.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines welcome foreign intervention in the South China Sea issue. The Philippine President Benigno Aquino spoke highly of the US role in the region on Tuesday, saying it ensures the freedom of navigation. China strongly opposes the US presence.

Hong Lei said, "We hope countries not related to the disputes over the South China Sea will respect the efforts of the countries involved to resolve the issue through direct negotiation."

China has always urged the resolution of the South China Sea disputes through bilateral mechanisms and peaceful negotiation. The country has also promoted plans of put aside differences in the name of joint exploration.

(CNTV June 17, 2011)
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