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Hanoi, Beijing at Odds Over China's Military Exercises - 2002-06-11

China dismisses Hanoi's opposition to its military exercises in the South China Sea. Hanoi has demanded that China halt the exercises, on the grounds that they infringe on Vietnamese sovereignty.

The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry says the exercises threaten the safety of ships traveling to Vietnam and violate international law. Hanoi says some of the exercises are to take place in Vietnam's territorial waters and will violate the country's sovereignty.

On Tuesday, China rejected Vietnam's complaints.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao tells reporters in Beijing that China's navy recently conducted routine shooting training southwest of the Chinese island of Hainan. Mr. Liu says China announced the exercises in advance to ensure the safety of ships and in accordance with international and domestic law. He calls Vietnam's criticism groundless.

The spokesman did not comment on Hanoi's claim that China's naval exercises took place in Vietnamese territory. He says he did not know when the exercises were carried out.

The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry says China's live ammunition exercises began Saturday and would conclude Thursday.

Hanoi and Beijing signed an agreement on their land border in 1999, but the two sides have yet to resolve disputes over areas of the South China Sea.

Hanoi and Beijing fought a brief war in 1979. Hanoi and Beijing normalized ties in 1991, and relations have steadily improved since then.