China’s Posturing in South China Sea Makes India, Vietnam Uneasy

China has been objecting to India’s oil projects in maritime areas offered by Vietnam in the South China Sea.

2 min read
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Prime Minister of Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Vietnam has extended an Indian oil concession in the South China Sea and begun drilling in another area it disputes with China in moves that could heighten tensions over who owns what in the vital maritime region.

The moves come at a delicate time in Beijing's relations with Vietnam, which claims parts of the sea, and India, which recently sent warships to monitor the Malacca Straits, through which most of China's energy supplies and trade passes.


A senior official of ONGC Videsh, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said interest in the block was strategic rather than commercial, given that oil development there was seen as high-risk with only moderate potential.

Vietnam also wants us to be there because of China’s interventions in the South China Sea.
The Official

Vietnam's state-run PetroVietnam declined to comment on the concession, which was first granted to India in 2006, but had been due to expire in mid-June.

Far to the south of block 128, drilling has begun in a block owned jointly by Vietnam's state oil firm, Spain's Repsol and Mubadala Development Co of the United Arab Emirates.

Vietnam granted Indian oil firm ONGC Videsh a two-year extension to explore oil block 128 in a letter that arrived earlier this week, the state-run company's managing director Narendra K Verma told Reuters.

When asked about the activity, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China opposes anyone "carrying out unilateral, illegal oil and gas activities in waters China has jurisdiction over".

We hope the relevant country can act on the basis of maintaining regional peace and stability and not do anything to complicate the situation.
Geng Shuang

India-Vietnam Discuss China's Aggressive Posturing in Asia

Amid China's aggressive posturing in the Asiatic region, India and Vietnam discussed "concrete and feasible" steps to protect their interests while seeking to bolster their strategic bilateral ties.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Vietnam Pham Binh Minh was on a four-day visit which concluded on Thursday. The visit comes in the midst of this growing maritime aggression of China in the South China Sea as also its military stand off with India in the Sikkim sector.

Vietnam and several other countries, including Brunei and the Philippines, are involved in territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, seen as a potentially explosive diplomatic issue in east Asia.

China has also been objecting to India's oil exploration projects in maritime areas offered by Vietnam in the South China Sea, claiming that it enjoys indisputable sovereignty there. However, India has been dismissive of Chinese objections, insisting its cooperation with Vietnam was as per international laws and that it would like the cooperation to grow.

(With inputs from Reuters and PTI.)

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