China allocates fund to support South China Sea ties

Beijing (China Daily/ANN) - China's ocean watchdog said yesterday it would allocate 30 million yuan (US$4.8 million) in 2013 to enhance international cooperation with developing economies in the South China Sea.

Experts believe strengthening cooperation with South China Sea countries will help ease tensions over complicated territorial disputes.

"Through cooperation with South China Sea countries we can deepen understanding and acknowledgement with each other and eliminate doubts and worries," Ma Deyi, director of the First Institute of Oceanography under the State Oceanic Administration, said yesterday.

He added that deepening cooperation will largely prevent sea disputes over the South China Sea.

"Territorial disputes cannot be solved within a short time. Territorial disputes should be temporarily put aside, and joint development will be an effective way," said Zhang Zhanhai, director of the administration's international cooperation department.

He added that strengthening international cooperation over the South China Sea will create a win-win situation, economically and politically.

China has long been devoted to strengthening international cooperation with South China Sea countries with the framework plan [2011-15] for international cooperation in the South China Sea and its adjacent oceans launched in January.

In 2012, more than 30 cooperation projects covering marine environment protection, regional oceanographic research and prevention and mitigation of coastal disasters in the South China Sea were carried out, according to the State Oceanic Administration.

Zhang added China will build a South China Sea tsunami consulting centre to collect marine environment data and release tsunami risk reports to reduce the impact of such disasters. No timetable for the centre has been disclosed.

Besides the 30 million yuan in international cooperation, China will allocate another 2 million yuan in funding for more than 20 international students from South China Sea countries for marine-related studies in China, according to Zhang.

Although China has tried to be friendly with South China Sea countries, sea disputes between China and other countries in the area surged this year.

China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia have claims to sovereignty over various overlapping parts of the South China Sea, which contains vast energy reserves and important sea lanes.

Tensions between China and the Philippines over Huangyan Island in the South China Sea have escalated since a Philippine warship entered the island's territorial waters and attempted to detain Chinese fishermen in April.

In June, the national assembly in Vietnam passed a law of the sea, which claims sovereignty and jurisdiction over China's Xisha and Nansha islands in the South China Sea.

Also yesterday, China's first long-range marine patrol ship in the South China Sea was commissioned into the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Haixun 21, on which a helicopter can take off and land, is the largest patrol ship of Hainan province, said Ruan Ruiwen, director of the administration.

Ma Chao contributed to this story.

*US$1=6.23 yuan

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