Chinese fire flares at Vietnam fishing boats

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The South China Sea begins to boil with uncertainty as Chinese surveillance patrols continue to tout its claim to a small group of disputed islands, firing upon four small fishing boats.

The recent confrontation by the Chinese navy gives weight to worries that the region is on the brink of geopolitical conflict.

The resource-rich Paracel Islands, located in Southeast Asia, draw fisherman from surrounding countries such as Vietnam, Philippines and Brunei, who have also staked claim to the maritime territory. The Irrawaddy, a Burmese and Southeast Asia news agency, reports:

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Ahency, crew members of a fishery administration ship prepare to conduct patrol missions in waters off the Paracel Islands and Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, crew members of a fishery administration ship prepare to conduct patrol missions in waters off the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

Sailors on board a Chinese navy craft fired two flares at four Vietnamese boats that had earlier failed to respond to whistles, shouts and signal flags demanding that they cease fishing and leave the area, which China claims as its territorial waters, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The profile of the long-running disputes has been raised in recent years because of China’s economic and military growth and subsequent American interest. The Paracels, which were occupied by China shortly before the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, are a particular flashpoint.

 

Read the story at The Irrawaddy.

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