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Vietnam Lawyers - Vietnam shrugs off China's poll objection
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Vietnam has lashed out on Beijing for interfering in its parliamentary election, which it called an internal matter, the government said on Thursday after Beijing protested to the votes cast held on disputed islands in the South China Sea.

"The holding of elections in the Spratlys is the internal affair of Vietnam," and they have been conducted for many years, foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga told reporters.

The two countries have a long-standing dispute on sovereignty of the Paracel archipelago and the Spratly islands referred to by China as Nansha, which are in potentially energy-rich areas and straddling strategic shipping routes.

Vietnam holds nationwide elections on May 22 for its communist-controlled National Assembly but because of logistical difficulties balloting takes place earlier in some remote areas such as the disputed islands.

On Tuesday, China called the election an infringement of its sovereignty.

"Any one-side action taken by any country on the Nansha Islands is illegal and invalid," Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu said, according to the state Xinhua news agency, using the Chinese name for the Spratlys.

Other Southeast Asian countries are in dispute with China on these groups of islands. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim all or part of the Spratlys, and China's increasingly assertive role in the area has raised tensions with its Asian neighbours.

Christine Gaylican is Bureau Chief for OfficialWire in the Philippines. She writes on a variety of subjects and manages all media activities in Asia for OfficialWire. Christine can be contacted through this website.-by Christine Gaylican

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