China warns India against oil exploration in South China Sea

Beijing: China asked India and other countries to refrain from oil exploration in maritime areas offered by Vietnam in the South China Sea, claiming that it enjoys ‘indisputable sovereignty’ there.

“I would like to reaffirm that China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea and the island. China’s stand is based on historical facts and international law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiang Yu told a media briefing here without directly referring to India.

When pointed out India’s stand apparently was guided by Vietnam’s claim that it had rights over the two oil blocks under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, Jiang said China’s sovereign rights and positions are formed in the course of history and this position has been held by the Chinese government for long.

She was answering questions over reports of ONGC Videsh Ltd’s plans to undertake oil exploration in two Vietnam blocks in the South China Sea which is expected to figure in External Affairs Minister S M Krishna’s talks with his Vietnamese counterpart in Hanoi tomorrow.

Jiang said she has not heard about the media report in this regard but at the same time stated China’s stand claiming rights on the South China Sea is based on historical facts and international law.

“On the basis of this, China is ready to engage in peaceful negotiations and friendly consultations to peacefully solve the disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights so as to positively contribute to peace and tranquility in the South China Sea area,” she said.

“We hope relevant countries respect China’s position and refrain from taking unilateral action to complicate and expand the issue. For countries outside the region we hope they will respect and support countries in the region to solve the bilateral disputes through bilateral channels,” she said.

“As for oil and gas exploration activities, our consistent position is that we are opposed to any country engaged in oil and gas exploration and development activities in waters under China’s jurisdiction. We hope the foreign countries do not get involved in South China Sea dispute,” she said.

With claims over the entire South China Sea, China has been running maritime disputes with a host of countries of ASEAN and Japan. China and Vietnam, besides Philippines had a major spat over the issue recently after Chinese maritime vessels stopped exploration activities in the waters they claim as theirs.

US is actively engaged in backing the rights of different countries over the waters of South China Sea contesting China’s claims and this is the first time India has joined the fray.

Suggesting that Hanoi should not engage outside countries, Jiang said, “For countries in the region I would like to emphasise that (they should) properly handle the dispute and enhance regional trust and reduce differences and expand cooperation so as to maintain peace stability over South China Sea in the common interest of all the countries in the region. It is the direction that countries should work together for.”

“Our position is based on long term affective administration. China has been the first to occupy the area,” she said.