Beijing: China on Thursday said it will continue to oppose any infringement on the country's sovereignty over its territorial waters by Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, a news agency reported.

"Faced with a sharper and more complicated situation, we will take more responsibilities to steadfastly maintain the country's maritime rights and interests," Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration, was quoted as saying. He said China will continue to carry out regular patrol over its territorial waters off the Diaoyu islands and the South China Sea.

China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are embroiled in a dispute in the South China Sea over territory, sovereignty and two island chains claimed in whole or in part by them, a news organisation said. China claims the largest portion of territory, saying its right to the area comes from 2,000 years of history.

Vietnam hotly disputes China's account, saying Beijing never claimed sovereignty over the islands until the 1940s.The other major claimant is the Philippines. Malaysia and Brunei also lay claim to territory in the South China Sea that they say falls within their exclusive economic zones.


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