On Sunday, Vietnam launched a protest directed towards China, saying the country established two administrative units in the South China Sea, one in the Spratly Islands and one in the Paracel Islands. Both archipelagos are claimed by multiple countries in the region, including China and Vietnam. Both administrative units fall under the Chinese city of Sansha in Hainan Province. A spokesman for Vietnam's Foreign Ministry, Le Thi Thu Hang, called on China to "respect Vietnam's sovereignty and abolish its wrongful decisions". The Chinese government has not since responded.
A Chinese government survey ship was seen tagging a Malaysian exploration vessel last week and remained off the shore of Malaysia as of Sunday night. Last month, Vietnam launched another official protest after a Vietnamese fishing boat was rammed and sunk by the Chinese Coast Guard near the Paracels.
China has been seriously pushing its presence in the oil-rich waters in recent years but this is not new. The People's Republic of China was been at odds with at least four other nations over both island chains and has been slowly expanding its territory in other places as well. Two years after its communist transformation in 1949, the PRC invaded and annexed Tibet, which up until that point was a sovereign nation. China has also had multiple encounters with India in the Kashmir territory, which has led to India losing small bits of land to China. Last but not least, the PRC still disputes the sovereignty of the Republic of China (ROC), otherwise known as Taiwan.
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea are likely to become a major focus for the international community in the near future.
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