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Vietnam decries Chinese missile deployment on island
by Staff Writers
Hanoi (AFP) Feb 19, 2016

Australia warns Beijing over threat of conflict in South China Sea
Sydney (AFP) Feb 19, 2016 - Australia urged China on Friday to refrain from the "militarisation of islands" to avoid walking into a conflict, a day after the United States slammed Beijing for deploying missiles in the disputed South China Sea.

China said Thursday it had weapons on one of the islands in the strategically important region, which US Secretary of State John Kerry said was evidence of an "increase of militarisation" and a "serious concern".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was critical for the region's prosperity that China and the US used international law to resolve their disputes.

"We urge all claimants in the South China Sea to refrain from any building of islands, any militarisation of islands, any land reclamation," Turnbull said in a joint press conference with his New Zealand counterpart John Key in Sydney.

Turnbull said both Australia and New Zealand wanted to see a lowering of tensions as he urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to resolve all disputes in the seas -- through which one-third of the world's oil passes -- through legal means.

"President Xi of China has said that one of China's biggest challenges is falling into what he calls the Thucydides Trap, which essentially is where a rising power creates anxiety among other powers such that conflict occurs," he said.

"If China wants to avoid falling into the Thucydides Trap, as President Xi describes it, then resolving disputes in the South China Sea should be done through international law, through all of those mechanisms that are available to us."

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the two nations' economic relationships with China, an important trading partner, would allow them to make their case against escalating tensions publicly and privately.

Beijing claims nearly all of the South China Sea. It has insisted that its island building aims to provide services such as search and rescue facilities, but also maintains it has the right to deploy necessary "self-defence" measures there.

Other nations surrounding the sea -- Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam -- lay claim to parts of it.

The US and Australia have carried out several so-called "Freedom of Navigation" overflights and sail-bys in the region, which China has described as "provocations".

Vietnam on Friday hit out at China's deployment of missiles on a disputed island chain, saying Beijing had "seriously violated" its sovereignty as international censure mounted over the apparent militarisation of the hotly-contested zone.

Chinese state media on Thursday confirmed the presence of unspecified weapons on Woody Island, part of the Paracels chain.

The admission came after Fox News reported that surface-to-air weapons had arrived there in the past week -- although Chinese media suggested they have been in place for longer.

Vietnamese authorities handed "a note of objection" to the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi on Friday, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"These were moves that seriously violated Vietnam's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelagoes," spokesperson Le hai Binh said Friday, using the Vietnamese name for the Paracels.

"Threatening peace and stability in the region as well as security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation. Vietnam requests China to immediately end those wrongful acts."

China claims all of the Paracels, though Hanoi and Taipei have overlapping claims.

Earlier on Friday Australia urged China to refrain from the "militarisation of islands", a day after the United States slammed Beijing for deploying missiles in the disputed South China Sea.

Tensions in the sea -- through which a third of the world's oil passes -- have mounted in recent months after China transformed contested reefs in the Spratly islands further south into artificial islands capable of supporting military facilities.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines also lay claim to parts of the sea.

US President Barack Obama this week hosted Southeast Asian leaders for a summit.

The US wants to shore-up its regional alliances with a view to avoiding flashpoints in the seas and keeping shipping lanes open.

The US and Australia have carried out several so-called "Freedom of Navigation" overflights and sail-bys in the region, which China has described as "provocations".


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Previous Report
Anti-China sentiment simmers in Vietnam on anniversary of border war
Hanoi (AFP) Feb 17, 2016
Vietnamese activists chanted anti-China slogans in Hanoi Wednesday as they marked the 37th anniversary of a border war with their giant neighbour, in a memorial that followed reports that Beijing has installed missile systems in contested seas. The two communist countries are locked in a long-standing territorial dispute over the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea. Vietna ... read more

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