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South China Sea maritime dispute escalates

The Philippines rejects China's plan to board and search foreign ships that enter the disputed areas.
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2012 09:57
The maritime dispute centres on an area believed to be rich in resources. [Reuters]

The Phillippines has objected to China's plan to board and search foreign ships that enter into what Beijing considers its territory in the disputed South China Sea.

On Saturday, the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs urged Beijing to clarify the new law aimed at strengthening maritime control allowing the border patrol in Hainan province to board, inspect, detain, confiscate, immobilise and expel foreign vessels.

The department said: "This planned action by China is illegal and will validate the continuous and repeated pronouncements by the Philippines that China's claim of indisputable sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea is not only an excessive claim but a threat to all countries," 

The two nations have been locked in a maritime standoff at a disputed shoal since April. The Phillipines has called on international support to have the territorial dispute resolved in multilateral talks by hosting a meeting with Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei on the issue this month.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to the South China Sea, which straddles key shipping lanes in the region and is believed to be rich in resources.

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