says Vietnam, Philippines' mingling on disputed isle a 'farce'
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[June 09, 2014]
By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING (Reuters) - China denounced
Vietnam and the Philippines on Monday for getting together on a disputed
island in the South China Sea to play soccer and volleyball, calling it
"a clumsy farce" and demanded both countries stop causing trouble.
The comments by a foreign ministry spokeswoman were China's first
response to the gathering on the Vietnamese-held island of Southwest
Cay on Sunday.
Philippine naval officials described the meeting of soldiers from
the two sides as a chance to show there can be harmony despite a web
of overlapping claims to the potentially energy-rich waters.
"Don't you think this small move together by Vietnam and the
Philippines is at most a clumsy farce?" China's Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing.
"China has irrefutable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and the
seas nearby," she said. "We demand that Vietnam and the Philippines
stop any behaviour that picks quarrels and causes trouble ... and
not do anything to complicate or magnify the dispute."
The gathering underscores the growing cooperation between Vietnam
and the Philippines, which have both felt China's wrath over the
South China Sea, even though both claim Southwest Cay and other
The Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all claim some of the Spratlys,
while China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim the whole chain.
China also claims 90 percent of the 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million
sq mile) South China Sea, its reach depicted on its maps with a
so-called nine-dash line deep into the maritime heart of Southeast
Diplomats and experts have described the partnership between Hanoi
and Manila as part of a web of evolving relationships across Asia
that are being driven by fear of China as well as doubts among some,
especially in Japan, over the U.S. commitment to the region.
Separately, China accused Vietnam of ramming its ships more than
1,000 times in a part of the sea and said while it wanted good
relations with its neighbour, it would not abandon principles to
A Vietnamese fishing boat sank on May 26 during a confrontation not
far from where China has towed an oil rig, accompanied by a cordon
of Chinese vessels, 240 km (150 miles) off Vietnam.
Last week, Vietnam television broadcast video showed a large Chinese
vessel steaming after two Vietnamese fishing boats, then colliding
with one which capsized.
The dispute is the most serious deterioration of relations between
the Communist states and traditional rivals since a brief war in
1979 following Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia.
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Shortly after China brought its oil rig into the area, Vietnam sent
a large number of vessels into the area, China's Foreign Ministry
said on Sunday.
"There were as many as 63 Vietnamese vessels in the area at the
peak, attempting to break through China's cordon and ramming the
Chinese government ships for a total of 1,416 times," the ministry
"China exercised great restraint and took necessary preventive
China has communicated with Vietnam more than 30 times, asking it to
"stop its illegal disruption", the ministry said.
"China wants good relations with Vietnam, but there are principles
that China cannot abandon."
Scores of Vietnamese and Chinese ships have squared off around the
rig since the platform was towed to the area in early May.
The Haiyang Shiyou 981 rig is drilling between the Paracel islands
occupied by China and Vietnam. Vietnam says the rig is in its
200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and on its continental
shelf. China says it is operating within its waters.
The rig's deployment set off anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam last
month in which at least four people were killed.
(Adds dropped words "Foreign Ministry" in paragraph 14)
(Additional reporting and writing by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Robert
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