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Spratlys > News > English News > March 2005

Category: @News  @China

Philippines reportedly settles differences with China over islands
Radio Australia, Australia - Last Updated 02/03/2005, 22:54:54

The Philippines reportedly says a dispute with China over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea has been settled.

China's Xinhua news agency quotes visiting Foreign Secretary, Alberto Romulo, as saying the two sides will now work together to exploit the region's oil deposits.

"Disputes and conflicts are all over now," he said.

China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam claim in whole or in part the oil-rich Spratly chain of islands and atolls.

All the claimants, except Brunei, have troops stationed in the area and there have been deadly clashes in the past.

The most serious incident occurred in 1988 when Chinese and Vietnamese naval forces clashed at Johnson Reef, resulting in the deaths of 78 Vietnamese navy personnel.

Last year China and the Philippines agreed to carry out a joint study of the mineral reserves in the area, sparking concern from the other claimants.

Vietnam warned the joint study could violate a 2002 code of conduct signed by the claimants to refrain from actions that could disturb the volatile peace in the islands.