Vietnam demands China stop cruises in South China Sea

HANOI: Vietnam demanded on Monday that China stop sending cruise ships to the South China Sea in a response to one of Beijing’s latest steps to bolster its claims in the strategic waterway.

A Chinese cruise ship with more than 300 passengers visited the disputed Paracel Islands earlier this month.

“Vietnam strongly opposes this and demands that China respect Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and international law and immediately stop and not repeat those activities,” foreign ministry spokesperson Le Hai Binh told Reuters.

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Le Hai Binh, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry

“Those actions have seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and international law.”

China claims 90 per cent of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, through which passes about US$5 trillion of trade a year.

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Countries competing to cement their rival claims have encouraged a growing civilian presence on disputed islands in the South China Sea. The first cruises from China to the Paracel islands were launched by Hainan Strait Shipping Co in 2013.

The Paracels are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

A new Chinese cruise ship has embarked on its maiden voyage to the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday, the latest effort by Beijing to bolster its claims in the strategic waterway.

The Changle Princess sailed from Sanya on the southern Chinese island province of Hainan on Thursday afternoon with 308 passengers on a four-day voyage, Xinhua said.

The new ship can carry 499 people and has 82 guest rooms with dining, entertainment, shopping, medical and postal services on board, it added.

Tourists will be able to visit the three islands in the Crescent group of the Paracels, Xinhua said.

China has previously said it plans to build hotels, villas and shops on the Crescent group and has also said it wants to build Maldives-style resorts around the South China Sea, though it is unclear if foreigners will ever be allowed to visit.

China claims 90 percent of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, through which passes about $5 trillion of trade a year.

Countries competing to cement their rival claims have encouraged a growing civilian presence on disputed islands in the South China Sea. The first cruises from China to the Paracel islands were launched by Hainan Strait Shipping Co in 2013.

The Paracels are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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2 Responses to “Vietnam demands China stop cruises in South China Sea”

  1. Brittius Says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius.

  2. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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