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G7 Leaders 'Deeply Concerned' about Tensions in Asia

A Vietnamese boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands. (File photo)
A Vietnamese boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands. (File photo)
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The Group of Seven industrialized nations said it is “deeply concerned” about tensions in the East and South China Seas. China is involved in territorial disputes with countries in the area.

Representatives from the G-7 nations met Wednesday in Brussels. In a statement released after the meeting, the group said it opposes attempts by one country to make territorial or maritime claims through use of intimidation, coercion or force. The statement did not name any country. But it is seen as a criticism of China, whose neighbors accuse it of using strong methods to strengthen its claims of control over disputed areas.

Both China and Japan claim sovereignty over a group of islands in the East China Sea. The islands are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The dispute worsened when China declared an Air Defense Identification Zone in the area. On May 25, a Japanese spokesman said Chinese fighter jet flew close to a Japanese plane where the countries' air defense identification zones overlap.

In the South China Sea, China and Vietnam are involved in a dispute about a state-owned Chinese oil-drilling platform that was placed off the coast of Vietnam. Both countries’ ships have exchanged water- cannon fire.

Vietnam state television recently showed a video of a Chinese ship crashing into a small Vietnamese fishing boat near the platform. Vietnam and China blamed each other for the incident, which happened May 26th.

The video shows a much larger Chinese boat moving toward two Vietnamese fishing boats. One of the Vietnamese boats moves onto its side in front of the Chinese boat and turns over. When the crash happened, a man on a Vietnamese boat from where the video was shot says “Oh! The boat’s sinking!”

Vietnam said Thursday the platform had been moved. But it said it is still within its 200-nautical mile economic zone. China said the platform is within its waters.

The deployment of the platform is also being blamed for anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam last month. At least four workers were killed.

China’s claims in the South China Sea are also disputed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. China claims about 90 percent of the possibly energy-rich South China Sea.

The United States does not take a position in the disputes. But it has strongly criticized China’s actions. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently called China’s actions “destabilizing.”

China rejects such statements. It says they represent foreign interference in its affairs. It has not commented on the G7 statement.