Vietnam condemns China tourism plan for archipelago

8 January 2010

HANOI - Vietnam has condemned what it says is a Chinese plan to develop tourism on the disputed Paracel archipelago.

The Paracels would be included in China's plan to develop nearby Hainan island into an international tourist site, Vietnamese foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said in a statement late Monday.

China announced its intention on December 31, the ministry said.

Nga demanded China immediately end the plan which "causes tension and further complicates the East Sea situation".

Vietnam and China have a long-standing dispute over sovereignty of the Paracels and a more southerly archipelago, the Spratlys. Both are in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea.

On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Beijing had "taken note" of the Vietnamese protest.

She added: "I want to reiterate that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratleys and the Paracels."

In December, Vietnam and Russia signed a major arms deal which reportedly involves the purchase of six submarines. Analysts said the deal aims to bolster Hanoi's claims against China over the potentially resource-rich islands.

Vietnam says its policy is to ensure a peaceful outcome to the maritime disputes.

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