Navy drill adds to tension with China

Vietnam's navy planned to hold live-fire drills off its central coast yesterday, amid escalating tensions with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The neighbours have hurled accusations at each other for weeks over what each sees as intrusions by the other in an expanse of ocean crossed by key shipping lanes and thought to contain large deposits of oiland gas.

Such accusations are not uncommon among China, Vietnam and the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, which are also involved in long-standing maritime disputes in the South China Sea, but this bout of tension has run longer than usual.

A senior navy source, who declined to be identified, said the Vietnamese drills were "routine", pre-planned and unrelated to the disputes.