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Chinese officials will board, seize ships in disputed waters

Beginning January 1, Chinese police will board and seize control of foreign ships which enter waters that are the center of a territorial dispute between multiple Asian nations.

By Ben BlanchardReuters / November 28, 2012

A China Marine Surveillance ship, bottom, and a Japan Coast Guard ship steam side by side near disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea Nov. 20. China is defending its increasingly assertive patrolling near the islands controlled by Japan, as tensions in the area continue to run high.

Kyodo News/AP/File

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Beijing

Police in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan will board and search ships which enter into what China considers its territorial waters in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Thursday, a move which could raise tensions further.

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The South China Sea is Asia's biggest potential military trouble spot with several Asian countries claiming sovereignty.

New rules, which come into effect on January 1, will allow Hainan police to board and seize control of foreign ships which "illegally enter" Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the official China Daily reported.

"Activities such as entering the island province's waters without permission, damaging coastal defence facilities and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal," the English-language newspaper said.

"If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communication systems, under the revised regulations," it added.

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