CHINA has begun "combat-ready patrols" in the South China Sea, the Defense Ministry said yesterday, the latest escalation in tensions over the potentially resource-rich area.
Asked what China would do in response to Vietnamese air patrols over the Nansha Islands, ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said China would "resolutely oppose any militarily provocative behavior."
"In order to protect national sovereignty and our security and development interests, the Chinese military has already set up a normal, combat-ready patrol system in seas under our control," he said.
"The Chinese military's resolve and will to defend territorial sovereignty and protect our maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable," Geng added, according to a transcript on the ministry's website (www.mod.gov.cn).
Geng said China's armed forces shoulder the responsibility of safeguarding the country's territorial sovereignty, sea rights and interests, adding that this fact is not directly related to the establishment of the city of Sansha. China may set up local military command organs in the city according to relevant regulations, he said.
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