CHINA SAYS IT FIRED 2 FLARES AT VIETNAMESE FISHING BOATS

Fox News on March 26, 2013, published an AP report on China saying its navy fired flares at Vietnamese fishing boats…the vessel was damaged in an incident that is highlighting tensions over the disputed South China Sea Paracel Islands and surrounding waters believed to hold a wealth of oil and natural gas deposits.

Vietnam, which also claims the Paracels, said one of the boat’s cabin’s caught fire in the incident, which it called “very serious.” The government lodged a formal complaint with the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi, seeking compensation for the alleged damage and punishment of the Chinese sailors responsible.

The fishing boat was near the Paracels when an unidentified Chinese vessel chased it and fired the flare, the Vietnamese government said in a statement issued late Monday.

There have been other clashes in the waters, often related to claims of illegal fishing or violations of fishing moratoriums unilaterally imposed by the Chinese.

Vietnam and China each claim large parts of the South China Sea. The Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also maintain that parts of the sea are theirs.

The profile of the long-running disputes has been raised in recent years because of China’s economic and military growth and subsequent American interest. The Paracels, which were occupied by China shortly before the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, are a particular flashpoint.

China last year incorporated the Paracels and most of its other South China Sea claims within the newly declared Sansha city-level administrative unit as way of raising the region’s profile and increasing funds for infrastructure and economic development.

China is also boosting its civilian fisheries and maritime surveillance patrols in the area.

China’s navy also conducts missions in the South China Sea…

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