China rejects Vietnam’s call to stop oil drilling

Updated 05 May 2014

China rejects Vietnam’s call to stop oil drilling

HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnam demanded China stop oil drilling operations in a disputed patch of the South China Sea, saying on Monday that Beijing’s decision to deploy a deep sea rig over the weekend was illegal.
China dismissed the objections, saying the activity was being carried out in its territorial waters.
Beijing’s increasingly assertive territorial claims to the waters, which are thought to have large oil and gas deposits beneath them, have angered Vietnam, the Philippines and other claimants. The region is widely seen as a potential area of conflict.
Last week, President Barack Obama signed a new defense pact with the Philippines aimed at reassuring Asian allies of American backing as they wrangle with Beijing’s growing economic and military might.
The China Maritime Safety Administration posted a navigational warning on its website advising that the CNOOC 981 rig would be drilling in the South China Sea from May 4 to Aug. 15, in an area close to the Paracel Islands, which are controlled by China but Vietnam claims as its own.
China’s maritime administration also said that ships entering a 3-mile (4.8-kilometers) radius around the area are prohibited.
Vietnam’s foreign ministry said the area where the rig was stationed lay within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as defined by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“All foreign activities in Vietnam’s seas without Vietnam’s permission are illegal and invalid,” the ministry said in a statement. “Vietnam resolutely protests them.”
Vietnam’s state-owned oil company, PetroVietnam, demanded that China National Offshore Oil Corporation “immediately stop all the illegal activities and withdraw the rig from Vietnamese waters.”
Asked about Vietnam’s objections, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the drilling was taking place in Chinese waters.
Many analysts believe China is embarking on a strategy of gradually pressing its claims in the water by seeing what it can get away with, believing that its much smaller neighbors will be unable or unwilling to stop them. Vietnam has accused Chinese ships of cutting cables to its exploration vessels and harassing fishermen, as has the Philippines.
Chinese assertiveness puts Vietnam’s authoritarian government in difficult position domestically because anger at China, an ideological ally, runs deep in the country. This is exploited by dissident movements, who accuse the government of being unwilling to speak out against Beijing.
Tran Cong Truc, the former head of a government committee overseeing the country’s border issues, said the latest Chinese move was especially provocative.
“This act by China is much more dangerous than previous actions such as cutting the exploration cable or fishing bans,” he said.
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Associated Press news assistant Zhao Liang in Beijing contributed to this report.


Philippines warns of ‘unfriendly’ greeting for uninvited warships

Updated 33 min 2 sec ago

Philippines warns of ‘unfriendly’ greeting for uninvited warships

  • There have been multiple sightings of Chinese warships in Philippine territorial waters
  • The Philippines has lodged several diplomatic protests in recent weeks

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned of “unfriendly” treatment for foreign ships traveling in the country’s territorial waters without permission, in a rare swipe at China’s use of warships just a few miles off Manila’s coast.
Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, on Tuesday made the demand for transparency amid frustration by the Philippine military at multiple sightings this year of Chinese warships moving within the country’s 12 mile territorial sea, at various locations in the archipelago.
“All foreign vessels passing our territorial waters must notify and get clearance from the proper government authority well in advance of the actual passage,” Panelo said.
“Either we get a compliance in a friendly manner or we enforce it in an unfriendly manner,” he added.
Panelo did not refer to China by name, nor elaborate on what that enforcement might entail.
The Philippines has lodged several diplomatic protests in recent weeks over the activities of Chinese coast guard, navy and paramilitary fishing vessels in Philippine-controlled areas of the South China Sea and in its territorial waters.
The armed forces has released images and cited witness sightings between February and early August of Chinese warships off Palawan and Tawi Tawi islands, a pattern that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana last week described as an “irritant.”
Duterte is facing heat at home for what critics say is his passive approach to Chinese provocations in exchange for a business relationship with Beijing that is not working out well for him, with promised investments slow in coming.
Though surveys consistently show Duterte enjoying a level of domestic approval never seen at this point in a presidency, the same polls show growing disdain for China over its conduct in the South China Sea, and reservations among some Filipinos over a massive influx of Chinese online gaming workers under Duterte.
Duterte will visit China from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2, his spokesman said. He has promised to discuss a South China Sea 2016 international arbitration victory over China with counterpart Xi Jinping.
Duterte has until now chosen not to push that ruling, which invalidated China’s claim of sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. Beijing did not participate in the court proceedings and rejected the ruling.
The South China Sea is a vital route for ships carrying more than $3 trillion in trade every year. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to parts of it.