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President Benigno S. Aquino III introduces to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam the members of his delegation during their bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the 18th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Summit on Sunday (May 8, 2011) at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia. (Photo by Ryan Lim/ Malacañang Photo Bureau/PNA)

Hanoi rebuffs China comments on island vote

HANOI, May 12, 2011 (AFP) – Vietnam’s parliamentary elections are an internal matter, the government said Thursday after Beijing objected to the ballot being held on disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The two countries have a long-standing dispute over sovereignty of the Paracel archipelago and the more southerly Spratlys, both of which are in potentially energy-rich areas and straddle strategic shipping lanes.
“The holding of elections in the Spratlys is the internal affair of Vietnam,” and they have been conducted for many years, foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga told reporters.
Vietnam on May 22 holds nationwide elections for its communist-controlled National Assembly but because of logistical difficulties balloting takes place earlier in some remote areas such as the disputed islands.
On Tuesday China called the election an infringement of its sovereignty.
“Any one-side action taken by any country on the Nansha Islands is illegal and invalid,” Beijing’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, according to the state Xinhua news agency, using the Chinese name for the Spratlys.
The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim all or part of the Spratlys, and China’s increasingly assertive role in the area has raised tensions, including with the United States.

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