China sends patrol into sea amid territorial disputes

June 16, 2011 08:42

BEIJING - China has sent its biggest civilian patrol ship across the South China Sea, state media said on Thursday, a move likely to raise tensions with neighboring countries sharing conflicting claims to waters thought to hold vast reserves of oil and gas.

The civilian sea patrol group left south China on Wednesday and will head south to Singapore passing near island groups at the heart of disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines.

The Haixun 31 maritime patrol ship weighs 3,000 tonnes, has a helicopter launch pad and can stay at sea for 40 days at a stretch, the official Beijing Daily reported.

"Our country's biggest maritime patrol ship patrols the South China Sea," said the headline of the paper.

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