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Grounded Chinese warship freed
China says its naval warship was freed after running aground in the Spratlys, an island chain in the South China Sea that has become a subject of dispute.
The warship became grounded early Sunday in the Half Moon Shoal in the resource-rich Spratlys near the Philippines, one of the countries with overlapping claims in the South China Sea over which China claims sovereignty. The warship extricated itself with the help of other naval ships and is returning to China with only minor damage, The New York Times reported, quoting the Chinese Defense Ministry.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said 30 Chinese fishing vessels, accompanied by a government ship, were sailing to another shoal in the same island chain.
The Times said tensions have been rising in the region with the presence of such fishing vessels and warships from China and other nations with claims in the South China Sea.
Spratlys are called Nansha by China.
Other countries with such claims include the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
The Times said Chinese foreign ministry officials have said Beijing does not necessarily claim all the waters in the sea — only the rights to exclusive economic zones off land features — but that some analysts say these claims involve large areas rich in potential oil and gas reserves and fisheries.
The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations ended its annual meeting last week without a joint communique on the South China Asia. China, which wields much influence in some of the ASEAN countries, has said the sea dispute should be resolved bilaterally and not in a multilateral setting, which is preferred by the United States, whose foreign policy is increasingly focused in the Asia-Pacific.
Copyright 2012 by United Press International