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Report: South China Sea disputes are intensifying

Vietnam and the Philippines challenge China in a regional standoff over the high-stakes littoral zone.

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This picture taken by Vietnam News Agency and released on June 14, 2011 shows Vietnamese sailors patrolling on Phan Vinh Island in the Spratly archipelago. Vietnam put on a show of military strength in the tense South China Sea on June 13, risking the ire of Beijing in the face of a deepening maritime rift with its powerful neighbor. (Vietnam News Agency/Getty Images)

A new report warns that long-running regional disputes over which country claims islands in the South China Sea are intensifying, and chances of finding resolution to the disputes are diminishing.

The "impasse" may foreshadow eventual open conflict between the nations, according to The New York Times, though the report estimates the chance of major conflict is still low, according to Voice of America.

More from GlobalPost: China to form military garrison in South China Sea, inflaming tension

The report, titled "Stirring Up the South China Sea (II): Regional Responses," was released today by the International Crisis Group, a nongovernmental research organization that has "become a leading authority on the frictions" over the territories, the Times wrote. The report follows a first by the ICG that was released in April and focused on China's interests in the region.

"Increasingly assertive positions among claimants have pushed regional tensions to new heights," the ICG wrote in the new report, which examined Southeast Asian interests. "Driven by potential hydrocarbon reserves and declining fish stocks, Vietnam and the Philippines in particular are taking a more confrontational posture with China."

Vietnam and the Philippines are expanding their military and security capabilities, as well, according to the ICG. Malaysia and Brunei are also involved in disputes over the marine territories.

On Monday, China deployed additional troops to guard two of the disputed islands, the New York Times reported. The Philippines claims both of the islands as their own, while Vietnam claims one of them. Today, China also declared one of the islands, dubbed Sansha, its newest municipality, the Associated Press reported.

More from GlobalPost: Drip by drip, China dominates its oceanic backyard

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120724/report-south-china-sea-disputes-could-boil-over