China protested the launching of a Vietnamese tourist group visiting the Spratly Islands as an infringement of its sovereignty. The Spratlys are an archipelago in the South China Sea that are claimed either partially or in their entirety by Vietnam, mainland China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said the Vietnamese tourist group will complicate the situation in the South China Sea. The islands have abundant fish resources, are located in prime shipping lanes and are believed to hold large gas and oil reserves. China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations signed a treaty in 2002 pledging to avoid activity that raises tensions in the area.
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