Vietnam's foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga says that China announced a development plan that included the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea. She says Taiwan conducted an artillery exercise near the island chains, which "seriously violated" Vietnam's sovereignty.

She told reporters Thursday that Vietnam was asking all parties to show restraint and "not to conduct actions that would further create tension in the region."

The two island chains are believed to be sitting atop vast oil and gas reserves. Vietnam and China claim both chains, while Taiwan and neighbouring Asian countries have made claims to the Spratlys.

The Associated Press - March 10, 2011

China stakes claim on disputed islands after spats

BEIJING — China on Tuesday reiterated its claim over disputed islands in the South China Sea after the Philippines and Vietnam protested to Beijing over its naval activity in contested waters.

The Philippines last week lodged a complaint after two Chinese vessels ordered its oil exploration boat to leave waters near the disputed Spratly islands, and Vietnam has protested against Chinese military exercises nearby.

"China holds indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

"We have been committed to dialogue and consultation to properly solve the South China Sea dispute and work with relevant countries to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea."

The Philippine government has ordered the coastguard to escort the survey ship since the incident near the disputed archipelago, known as the Nansha islands in China and the Spratlys elsewhere.

The reputedly oil-rich chain of tiny islands and reefs in the South China Sea is claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Jiang on Tuesday called on countries involved not to make the issue "more complicated".

"We hope that other countries can respect and support efforts to peacefully resolve the disputes, to promote good neighbourly friendship and peace and stability in the region," she said.

Agence France Presse - March 8, 2011