Vietnam condemns China's island tourism plans

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Vietnam has condemned China's plan to develop tourism on the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, demanding preparations be halted and scrapped forever.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said Vietnam demanded that China immediately toss out the plan that includes Hoang Sa in a scheme to develop Hainan Island into an international tourist site, according to a statement released on January 4.

According to the statement, the scheme was announced by the Chinese State Council on December 31 last year.

Vietnam reiterated its undisputable sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, Nga said, adding that "the scheme by the Chinese side has seriously violated Vietnam's sovereignty."

She said the plan "causes tension and further complicates the East Sea situation."

Vietnam and China have a longstanding dispute over sovereignty of the Hoang Sa Archipelago and the more southerly Truong Sa Archipelago, both are in the East Sea.

In a recent action, Vietnamese border guards on January 3 chased off nearly 20 Chinese fishing boats that were fishing in Vietnam's waters off central Thua Thien-Hue Province.

The border guards said it was not the first time Chinese fishing boats violated Vietnamese water borders.

On November 10 last year, border guards in the same province detected 17 Chinese boats fishing just 24 nautical miles off its Thuan An Port. Sixteen of the boats were chased off Vietnamese waters while one was seized with 13 fishermen onboard. However, it was released soon after with a warning.

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