Vietnam condemns China’s sea claims as ‘serious violation’Posted: December 5, 2012
Reuters reports from Hanoi and New Delhi: “Vietnam condemned on Tuesday China’s claims to disputed South China Sea islands as a serious violation of its sovereignty after saying it was setting up patrols to protect its fisheries and accusing Chinese boats of sabotage.
“The condemnation of China’s claims to the sea and its numerous reefs and tiny islands was the strongest yet from Vietnam since tension flared this year and came after India declared itself ready to send navy ships to safeguard its interests in the disputed waters.
“Claims by an increasingly powerful China over most of the South China Sea have set it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the mineral-rich waters.
“Vietnam’s condemnation came a day after its state oil and gas company, Petrovietnam, accused Chinese boats of sabotaging an exploration operation by cutting a seismic cable being towed behind a Vietnamese boat.
“Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the cable cutting as well as some recent Chinese provincial regulations that identified the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands as Chinese, and a map that did the same thing.”
“Asked about the complaint, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a briefing in Beijing that China was checking the reports of the incident, which he said was understood to have taken place in an area of overlapping claims.
“‘Chinese fishing boats were operating in normal fishing activities,’ Hong said.”
“India has also declared itself ready to deploy naval vessels to the South China Sea to protect its oil-exploration interests there, a new source of tension in a disputed area where fears of conflict have been growing steadily.
“Indian navy chief, Admiral D.K Joshi, said on Monday that, while India was not a territorial claimant in the South China Sea, it was prepared to act, if necessary, to protect its maritime and economic interests in the region.”
“An Indian government spokesman on Tuesday played down the comments: ‘This is an issue for the parties concerned to resolve.’
“India is not the only non-claimant nation concerned about disruption to shipping or oil exploration in the South China Sea. The United States, a close ally to several of the Southeast Asian claimants, has also voiced concern at the prospect of China stopping international ships in contested waters.”
“Asked what China would do if Indian navy entered the South China Sea to protect its oil interests, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong, said China had ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over the sea’s islands and surrounding waters.
“‘China opposes unilateral oil and gas development in disputed waters of the South China Sea. We hope that concerned countries respect China’s position and rights, and respect efforts made through bilateral talks to resolve disputes.’”
“Estimates for proven and undiscovered oil reserves in the South China Sea range as high as 213 billion barrels of oil, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a 2008 report. That would surpass the proven oil reserves of every country except Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, according to the BP Statistical Review.”
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