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Vietnam protests Taiwan plan for Spratly airstrip

HANOI -- Vietnam has protested Taiwan's reported plan to build an airstrip on one of the disputed Spratly islands, the communist government said in a statement seen Thursday.

Taiwan defence officials have said they plan to build an airfield on what they call Itu Aba, the largest among the Spratlys, a chain of islands and rocky outcrops in the South China Sea.

"Vietnam possesses adequate historical evidence and legal foundations to proclaim its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes," said Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung.

"All activities in the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes which are not approved by Vietnam are violations of Vietnam's sovereignty in these areas and are devoid of legal merit," he said in a statement sent to AFP Thursday.

Dung said Vietnam "urges Taiwan to immediately desist from continuing with its plan as well as similar activities in the Truong Sa archipelago."

The Spratly islands, a cluster of rocks and reefs in a sea territory believed to be rich in oil and natural gas, are claimed in full or in part by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

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