Posted by: mulrickillion | November 7, 2011

India and China spar over South China Sea

Editor: Jeff Smith, South Asia Security Monitor, No. 280, Nov 4, 2011 —

INDIA AND CHINA SPAR OVER SOUTH CHINA SEA

India’s unease with China’s “string of pearls” and its broader presence in the Indian Ocean have been well publicized, but now the sparring between the two Asian giants has moved to China’s backyard as well. Plans by India’s state oil company ONGC to explore for energy in the South China Sea in a joint venture with Vietnam have raised the ire of China, which is embroiled in several territorial disputes in the hotly contested waters with Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman warned that oil exploration activities in waters under China’s jurisdiction were “illegal and invalid” and “violated China’s sovereignty, rights and interests.” China claims nearly all the South China Sea as its own. ONGC operates one gas field off Vietnam’s south coast and won a contract in 2006 to jointly explore two more blocks – one of which it has since relinquished — farther north with PetroVietnam. China disputes Vietnam’s claim that the northern blocks are Vietnamese territorial waters. However, ONGC Chairman AK Hazarika explains, “The [Indian] Ministry of External Affairs has informed us that the block is well within the territory of Vietnam and so there are no issues with exploration there.” Adding to tensions, in July an Indian warship sailing off the coast of Vietnam was hailed over an open radio and warned that it was “entering Chinese waters” and told to leave. China has dismissed any involvement in the incident. (Wall Street Journal September 23, 2011).

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