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Malaysia's navy chief denies Chinese incursion in James Shoal

Published on Jan 29, 2014 1:14 PM
Chinese Navy submarines and warships taking part in an international fleet review on April 23, 2009. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia's navy chief has denied a report that three Chinese navy ships patrolled an area claimed by the South-east Asian country, saying the Chinese exercise took place hundreds of miles to the north in international waters.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that an amphibious landing craft and two destroyers patrolled the James Shoal on Sunday, 80 km off the coast of Malaysia's Sarawak state, and held a ceremony in which they swore to safeguard Chinese sovereignty.

The reported activity at the southernmost tip of Beijing's sweeping claims over the South China Sea appeared to be the latest sign of its territorial assertiveness that has boosted tensions with claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam.

Royal Malaysian Navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar, in comments published by the New Straits Times on Wednesday, said the Chinese exercise, involving its newly commissioned aircraft carrier and a submarine, took place 1,000 nautical miles away from Malaysia's 200 nautical mile economic exlusion zone.

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