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Philippine, Vietnamese troops drink beer, play volleyball on disputed isle

Published on Jun 8, 2014 4:12 PM
China Coast Guard ships (L and R) and a Philippine supply boat (C) engage in a stand off as the Philippine boat attempts to reach the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea reef in the Spratly islands, claimed by both countries, on March 29, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (REUTERS) - Vietnamese and Philippine troops got together on a disputed island in the South China Sea on Sunday to play soccer and volleyball - as well as drink beer - in a display of unity that will not go unnoticed in Beijing.

Philippine naval officials billed the event on the Vietnamese-held island as a chance to show the world there can be harmony in the South China Sea despite a web of overlapping claims to the potentially energy-rich waters.

The gathering on Southwest Cay in the Spratly archipelago also symbolises how once-suspicious neighbours are cooperating in the face of China's growing assertiveness in disputed waters.

About 40 Philippine naval personnel sailed to the island for the day-long event, Philippine naval officials said.

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