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China stakes claim on Spratly islands after spats

BEIJING, March 8, 2011 (AFP) – China on Tuesday reiterated its claim over disputed islands in the South China Sea after the Philippines and Vietnam protested to Beijing over its naval activity in contested waters.

The Philippines last week lodged a complaint after two Chinese vessels ordered its oil exploration boat to leave waters near the disputed Spratly islands, and Vietnam has protested against Chinese military exercises nearby.

“China holds indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

“We have been committed to dialogue and consultation to properly solve the South China Sea dispute and work with relevant countries to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

The Philippine government has ordered the coastguard to escort the survey ship since the incident near the disputed archipelago, known as the Nansha islands in China and the Spratlys elsewhere.

The reputedly oil-rich chain of tiny islands and reefs in the South China Sea is claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Jiang on Tuesday called on countries involved not to make the issue “more complicated”.

“We hope that other countries can respect and support efforts to peacefully resolve the disputes, to promote good neighborly friendship and peace and stability in the region,” she said.

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