Karela Fry

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India involves itself in South China Sea dispute

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Often a China sympathiser, the Hindu reports on a new dispute:

The Chinese government on Monday reiterated its opposition to exploration projects by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Videsh and Vietnam in the South China Sea, saying any deal without its approval would be “illegal and invalid” and an infringement on China’s sovereignty.

The comments from the Foreign Ministry came as Indian officials said ONGC Videsh would continue with exploration projects in two blocks, located near the Paracel Islands, over which Vietnam claims sovereignty. India has reportedly taken the position that Vietnamese claims were in accordance with international laws.

China, however, has conveyed its opposition to the Indian government about the project, citing its claims of sovereignty over all the South China Sea and the disputed islands. China’s claims are contested by a number of countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Asked about India’s reported decision to go ahead with the projects, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei, without directly referring to India, said on Monday that China enjoyed “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea islands.

“Any country engaging in oil and gas exploration activities in this jurisdiction without the approval of the Chinese government,” he said, “constitutes an infringement upon China’s sovereignty and national interest.”

Washington Post has a perspective backed by the inforgraphic on the right:

South China Sea and petroleum

Arguments over who owns what in the South China Sea have rumbled on for decades, ever since 1947, when the doomed Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek issued a crude map with 11 dashes marking as Chinese almost the entire 1.3 million-square-mile waterway. The Communist Party toppled Chiang but kept his map and his expansive claims, though it trimmed a couple of dashes.

Today, China’s insatiable thirst for energy has injected a highly combustible new element into long-running quarrels over cartography, arcane issues of international law and ancient shards of pottery that Beijing says testify to its “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.

China, which imports more than half its oil, will nearly double its demand for it over the next quarter-century, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris. Its demand for natural gas — believed to be particularly abundant beneath an archipelago of contested islands and reefs known as the Spratlys, just west of [the Philippines] — is projected to more than quadruple.

With consumption soaring and the price of imports rising, China is desperate for new sources to boost its proven energy reserves, which for oil now account for just 1.1 percent of the world total — a paltry share for a country that last year consumed 10.4 percent of total world oil production and 20.1 percent of all the energy consumed on the planet, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

In the meanwhile, a practical move by China is reported by ET to have taken India by surprise:

China today announced plans to expand its seabed mineral explorations in the Indian Ocean after an international authority approved its bid to mine for polymetallic sulphide ore, much to the surprise of India.

Beijing has already got approval to explore in a 10,000 sq km seabed area in southwest Indian Ocean for the ore and now it plans to invest more to expand the “depth and scope of oceanic research”.

Following the approval, China’s Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association is set to sign a 15-year exploration contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) later this year granting pre-emptive rights for it to develop the ore deposit in future, state run Xinhua reported.


2 Responses

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  1. […] an agreement between India and Vietnam to prospect for oil in the South China Sea, India is not exactly a distant observer. There have been unconfirmed […]

  2. […] their quest for oil in East Asia, China and India had reportedly almost come to a military engagement in South China Sea. Both sides […]

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