Claimants of the disputed South China Sea have slammed China's recent announcement of plans to board and search ships that enter contested territory in the area.
Vietnam on Tuesday called the move a "Chinese sabotage". It announced its own intention to patrol its fisheries in the disputed waters. Just a day earlier, Vietnamese state-owned oil and gas company, Petrovietnam, accused Chinese boats of cutting a seismic cable being towed behind a Vietnamese boat.
Philippine's Foreign Affairs spokesperson says China's patrol plans pose more than just a serious threat to the region.
[Raul Hernandez, Foreign Affairs]:
"We will have problems with freedom of navigation and also lawful commerce. This would be a threat to all countries, not only in the region, but to all those countries that use these sea lanes of communication."
The South China Sea runs from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan. It has strategic importance, containing one-third of the world's shipping and huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed.
The Chinese regime claims the entire South China Sea as its sovereign territory, and has steadily increased military presence on the disputed waters. Third party countries, including the U.S., have expressed their concern over recent developments.
On Monday India's navy said it is prepared to deploy vessels to the South China Sea to protect its oil interests there.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral D.K Joshi said while India was not a claimant in the dispute over territorial rights in the South China Sea, it was prepared to act, if necessary, to protect its maritime and economic interests in the region.
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