07/16/2012, 00.00
CHINA - ASEAN
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South China Sea: Chinese fleet of 30 vessels arrive at Spratlys

It is the largest fleet ever seen in the archipelago. Beijing's answer to Manila and Hanoi’s attempts to push ASEAN against the expansionist ambitions of China. China’s aggression also worries the United States.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A fleet of 30 Chinese vessels have arrived at the Spratlys, is increasing tensions between the nations who claim sovereignty over the islands of the South China Sea.

The fleet arrived yesterday afternoon at Yongshu from Hainan. It includes a vessel for supplies and security. According to Xinhua news agency it is the largest fleet to have ever reached the Spratlys.

The archipelago in the South China Sea, potentially rich in undersea oil fields, is disputed by China, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Philippines and Malaysia and attempts to take possession of one or another of the islands have long been at the centre of contention between the neighbouring countries. Philippines and Vietnam accuse Beijing of being overly aggressive in claiming sovereignty over the archipelago (see: 04/07/2012 As China's foreign policy hardens, it is Beijing versus all). In recent weeks there have been clashes between Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese vessels.

Manila and Hanoi are also seeking allies in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian countries) to counter China. In recent days, however, at the organization's summit in Cambodia, it was not possible to draft a motion against Beijing because of opposition from Cambodia, which is economically dependent on China (see: The 14/07/2012 South China Sea dispute leaves ASEAN speechless). According to analysts, the arrival of the vast Chinese fleet yesterday appears to be Beijing's response to criticisms raised in the ASEAN summit.

The hegemonic ambitions of China also worry that the United States who have increased their naval presence in the Pacific.

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