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Vietnam to hold live-fire exercises in South China Sea (UPDATES)

An escalating territorial row between China and Vietnam has also seen hackers post patriotic messages to thousands of websites.

China vietnam spratly islands 10 06 11Enlarge
This photograph from 1995 shows an aerial view of a garrison identified as a Vietnamese fortification built in the Sincowe East Island, one of the many islets, shoals and reefs located in the disputed Spratly Islands. The island chain is claimed wholly by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and partly by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. (ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Vietnam has said it will hold live-fire exercises in the South China Sea amid an escalating row with China over disputed waters.

Vietnam has accused China of attacking one of its ships, while China in response accused Vietnam of “gravely violating” its sovereignty in an escalating row over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Tensions between China and its neighbors Vietnam and the Philippines have escalated in recent weeks amid anger over Chinese claims to the South China Sea and growing wariness over China’s naval power. China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all claim territory in the South China Sea, which includes the disputed Spratly Islands, said to hold deposits of oil and gas.

Hackers from both China and Vietnam have planted patriotic messages and pictures of national flags on thousands of websites, including government sites, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports.

Vietnamese state media reported Friday that thousands of websites could be at risk because of attacks by Chinese hackers. Webmasters in Vietnam have been told to be on high alert, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Accounts of the latest incident between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels in the South China Sea varied wildly between the two countries.

Hanoi said China used a fishing boat to intentionally ram cables from a Vietnamese ship conducting oil and gas surveys inside its exclusive economic zone, Reuters reports. It is the second time in two weeks that China has been accused of ramming a Vietnamese boat.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded late Thursday by condemning Vietnam for endangering the lives of Chinese fishermen, saying that the fishing boat’s net had become entangled in the cables.

"The Vietnamese ship put the lives and safety of the Chinese fishermen in serious danger," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement.

Hong also accused Vietnam of violating China's claim on the Spratly island chain and nearby seas, which Vietnam also claims as its own.

"It must be pointed out that by conducting unlawful oil and gas surveys in seas around the Wan'an Bank of the Spratly archipelago and by driving out a Chinese fishing vessel, Vietnam has gravely violated China's sovereignty and maritime rights," Hong said.

Vietnam warned vessels to stay out of the area off its central coast when it conducts the drills on Monday, BBC reports.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/110610/china-vietnam-spratly-islands-sea-dispute-military-hackers