China's patrols of areas surrounding the Hoang Sa (Spratly) islands are a direct violation Vietnam's territorial sovereignty over the archipelago, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.
The ministry demanded that China stop the patrols immediately and asked the northern neighbor not to complicate the East Sea situation, ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said. She said China's actions were adversely affecting efforts to sustain regional peace and cooperation,
Nga made the statement after the German-owned Deutsche Presse Agentur (German Press Agency) quoted the semi-official China News Service as saying that China sent two fisheries administration ships to patrol areas close to the islands on Thursday.
The patrol was designed to crack down on piracy and protect the "normal production and life of Chinese fishermen," the Chinese news source quoted officials as saying. The patrol had been planned for one month but could be extended later, said the report.