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China pledges to protect maritime sovereignty

(China Daily)

08:54, June 29, 2012

A military presence may be set up in Sansha, a newly established city that administers Chinese territory in the South China Sea, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told a news conference that setting up a military body in the city is being studied by the military.

The move is a strong indication of China's determination to protect its maritime sovereignty in response to provocation from neighboring countries, analysts said.

The State Council on June 21 approved the establishment of the prefecture-level city of Sansha to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea.

The government abolished a county-level administration office for the islands that was previously stationed on Yongxing Island, part of the Xisha Islands.

On the same day, June 21, Vietnam passed a law claiming sovereignty and jurisdiction over Xisha and Nansha islands. The islands are within Chinese territorial waters.

Asked to comment on Vietnamese overflights in the skies above Sansha recently, Geng said on Thursday that Beijing will "resolutely oppose any military provocation".

"The Chinese military has already set up a normal, combat-ready patrol system in seas under our control to protect national sovereignty and our security and development interests," he said.

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