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China demands Vietnam stop business in Spratly archipelago

RIA Novosti

12:02 10/06/2011 BEIJING, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - China demanded on Friday that Vietnam stop all business activities on the contested Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea and allow Chinese fishermen to work there.

The warning came a day after Vietnam said that a Chinese fishing boat had purposefully torn away a seismic research cable laid by Vietnam's Petrovietnam oil company.

"Vietnam is unlawfully exploring oil and gas in the Wan'an Bank ... of the Spratly archipelago and harassed a Chinese fishing boat," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

Hong said a Chinese boat, involved "in doing normal business," was harassed by a Vietnamese boat and the Chinese fishing boat's net got mixed up with the Vietnamese boat's cable.

The Vietnamese ship put the lives and safety of the Chinese fishermen in serious danger, he said.

China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all claim parts of the South China Sea, which could contain oil and gas deposits. China's claim is the largest, and includes the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos.

In recent weeks, China has quarreled with Vietnam and the Philippines over festering maritime disputes and, although a military clash seems unlikely, the tensions could complicate regional diplomacy and possibly involve the U. S., the key military power in the Pacific. The tensions have been magnified by regional concern over China's naval modernization.

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