China has warned Vietnam for its "invasive activities" at the Spratlys hours after Vietnamese authorities complained about Chinese fishing boat supported by two patrol vessels had damaged the exploration cable of a state-operated seismic survey boat.
"Vietnam said it was the second time China had hindered the operation of an oil and gas exploration boat in two weeks, adding that its actions were "completely premeditated" and accusing it of flaring regional tensions in the South China Sea,"Yahoo News reports.
"Hanoi says both incidents occurred well within the 200 nautical miles guaranteed to Vietnam as an exclusive economic zone by international law," the report added.
Hanoi claimed the Chinese presence was well "within the 200 nautical miles guaranteed to Vietnam as an exclusive economic zone by international law."
The Spratly islands, located in the south China sea and known to contain substantial oil deposits, are being claimed by China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan and the Philippines.
Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry said "the crew had merely been protecting itself after being dragged backward for over an hour by a Vietnamese oil and gas exploration vessel — one, he said, that was "illegally working at the scene."
"The claims made by Vietnam are complete misrepresentations of the truth. As is known to all, China has indisputable sovereignty rights over the Spratly Islands and the waters nearby," Hong said
The heightened tension between China and Vietnam came a few days after the Philippines complained of Chinese incursion in the disputed islands and in the Reed Bank off the province of Palawan which according to Philippine authorities is well within its territorial boundaries.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao said the Reed Bank—which the Philippines calls Kalayaan—was “totally within China’s territorial claims.”
Kalayaan Island is very near the Philippine province of Palawan and is populated by Filipinos who are registered voters in the Philippines. It is a 5th class Municipality with a population 223 Filipinos compose of 12 households.
This island has a water-filtering plant, power generators, weather stations and a communication tower which is built by the Philippine-based SMART Telecommunications.
China's recent statement claiming Kalayaan Island as part of its territory has angered Philippines authorities including Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and other legislators.
"The government says it has documents that show at least six Chinese intrusions in Manila-claimed areas in and near the Spratlys since February. Among the most serious was the reported firing Feb. 25 by a Chinese navy vessel to scare away Filipino fishermen from the Jackson Atoll, a Spratlys area claimed by Manila," Sunstar.com reports
"The Philippines, whose poorly equipped forces are no match for China's powerful military, has resorted to diplomatic protests. President Benigno Aquino III has said his government was preparing to bring its protests before the United Nations," the report added.