Development won't harm neighbors: Official

09:30, January 07, 2010      

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China yesterday brushed off concerns that its plans to develop its southernmost island Hainan province would worsen a territorial dispute with its neighbors.

In a government document giving guidelines and granting favorable policies, the government said "active and steady" efforts will be made to open Xisha islands to tourists and develop tourism on uninhabited islands in an orderly manner.

Meanwhile, Hainan will be developed into a "resource and service base in the South China Sea", with national strategic oil reserve bases to be planned there.

The plan immediately aroused the concerns of Vietnam, which has long attempted to claim sovereignty over the South China Sea area, a huge exclusive economic zone surrounding the Nansha and Xisha islands.

Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said on Monday that the plan "causes tension and further complicates the situation", AP reported.

Hainan's Party chief Wei Liucheng yesterday refuted that the tourism development of Xisha islands would affect Vietnam. "We are developing tourism, economy and society only on our own territory and territorial sea, and I don't think that will have an adverse impact on others," he told a press conference.

"China always regards its neighbors as friends and we will not harm the interests of other countries or people to fulfill our development," he said.

Source:China Daily
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