13 May 2012

China denies preparing for war over disputed area

7:58 am on 13 May 2012

China is denying reports its military forces are preparing for war amid tensions over a disputed territory in the South China Sea.

The statement from the Defence Ministry comes despite warnings to the Philippines that military conflict is possible over a reef known as the Scarborough Shoal.

Ships from China and the Philippines have been confronting each other for more than a month over the shoal, which is claimed by both countries, the BBC reports.

Fears of an armed clash escalated when the Chinese army's own newspaper warned the military should not be treated as a paper tiger.

That led to excited rumours on Chinese internet sites that the navy was preparing for action.

The ministry has officially said the report is not true.