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South China Sea: Chinese provoke Japan in dispute over archipelago
Japan accuses the Chinese coast guard of having invaded the territorial waters of two controversial islands in the South China Sea. Two ships drove to the twelve-mile zone off the Senkaku Islands on Saturday morning; According to Japanese accounts, it was the twelfth such incident that year. The uninhabited archipelago is controlled by Tokyo. China claims the islands it calls Diaoyu for itself.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel criticized China for the territorial dispute with unusually sharp words. In recent months, the People's Republic has acted in a destabilizing and unilateral manner, Hagel said at a security conference in Singapore. The US would not look the other way if the fundamental principles of the international order were challenged. Hagel assured US allies in the region that cuts in the US defense budget would not affect the Asia-Pacific region.
The Senkaku Islands are located in fish-rich waters, and larger oil and gas deposits are suspected in the area. China repeatedly sends ships to the sea area around the island to show strength. It lays claim to almost the entire South China Sea, including regions off the coasts of neighboring countries. The People's Republic invokes allegedly historical rights and thus encounters resistance from other neighbors.
Patrol boats for the neighbors
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said no one should use force to enforce territorial claims. Japan will deliver ten patrol boats to the Philippine Coast Guard, and Vietnam will also be supported. Both countries have been protesting China's advances in their coastal waters for months. "Abe violates the spirit of peace on which international law is based," criticized the Chinese state agency Xinhua. Abe is only looking for excuses to enforce national interests that are barely veiled.
Vietnam's Defense Minister Phung Quan Than called on China to dismantle the oil platform it had installed in May on the controversial Paracel Islands off central Vietnam. The platform was the trigger for serious anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam. The minister called relations with China "friendly, despite some friction and disagreement".
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