Tuesday, on the eve of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, the China has suggested that it would take a dim view of an India-Vietnam agreement if it were to include ONGC’s exploration of oil wells within the waters of the disputed South China Sea.
China would not object to any “legitimate and lawful” agreement between Vietnam and a third country, said the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei. Hong however also said, “If such agreement concerns waters administered by China or if such cooperation project is not approved by the Chinese government, then we will be concerned about such an agreement and we will not support it.”
Also, Hong responded to questions regarding President Pranab Mukherjee’s signing an agreement during his current visit to Vietnam. Going on to spell out China’s concerns, he said, “We have noted President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Vietnam and I would like to point out that China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha islands and adjacent waters.”
The sources from Chinese government said Beijing is prepared to severely oppose India’s “newfound enthusiasm” for Vietnam after defence deals with Japan, which is its another rival. China has earlier opposed India’s oil exploration efforts along with a Vietnamese company in the area.
China has conveyed similar objections about wells previously allotted to ONGC by Hanoi while it isn’t clear where the two oil wells will be located. Almost all of the (disputed) South China Sea is claimed by China despite being opposed by Vietnam, Malaysia Philippines and Brunei. Last May, the dispute between Vietnam and China over oil exploration flared up when Hanoi fiercely opposed Beijing’s attempts to deploy a major rig.
“Boundary feud doesn’t influence bilateral ties”
India-China boundary dispute doesn’t affect bilateral ties, said Hong, “because it covers several issues including economic relations.” When asked what he thought about the latest incursion by Chinese troops into the Indian border, he said, “As per the border issue you mentioned, China’s position is consistent. We believe that for a long time, China and India have maintained stability in border areas and this issue does not influence bilateral ties.”
He added, the two countries should make continuous efforts to resolve the differences and maintain tranquillity and stability at the border.
Moreover, the foreign ministry also tried to set the tone of China’s approach during Xi’s India tour and said that the most important task was “development and realization of China’s and India’s dreams”. Hong said, China and India are willing to stand by each other to accelerate the process of joint and common development.
He said, “We stand ready to step up development cooperation with India and boost the development of global economy. We wish full success of the visit so that bilateral relations can be brought to a new high.” Hong also said that the two neighbours will exchange their experience on national governance and development strategies. “Through this visit we hope to connect our important civilizations and make contribution to world civilization.”