Vietnam has communicated to India about the significant pressure exerted by China in the South China Sea after Beijing deployed a large number of Naval vessels in the disputed waters. It could be a matter of concern for New Delhi as India’s state-run ONGC has oil exploration projects in the region in association with Vietnam.
The Economic Times quoting Vietnamese diplomatic sources said -On July 4, Chinese survey vessel Haiyang Dizhi 8, escorted by a large number of ships including from the coast guard began holding marine seismic surveys near several offshore oil blocks which fall within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.
The Chinese methods to obstruct oil exploration projects in Vietnam triggered a massive showdown between the two neighbours (China and Vietnam). Vietnam is determined to protect its territorial integrity, they said. An attempt by China in 2014 to drill oil in the Paracel Islands, claimed by Vietnam, led to anti-China riots in Vietnam in which several Chinese factories were vandalised.
According to the Hindu, “We have briefed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) about the incident. We are waiting for an official statement,” a diplomatic source said on condition of anonymity. The incident occurred on July 4 but Vietnam has not made it public till China let it out last week as we wanted to settle the issue, the source said and following that, “We have been asked to seek countries which have interest in the region and seek their support.”
India, like the US, supports the freedom of navigation and access to resources in the South China Sea in accordance with principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
A spokesperson of Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said in Hanoi last week that Hanoi is firm to protect its sovereignty and jurisdiction in the South China Sea in accordance with international laws.
Besides India, Vietnam has approached the US, Russia, Australia and several other major nations and notified about Beijing’s plan to disrupt oil exploration projects in Vietnam’s waters.
China and Vietnam are among several countries having competing claims over the South China Sea and islands in the region. Tensions have flared in the past between the two nations over the Spratly and Paracel Islands. Also, China, which disputes Vietnam’s sovereignty over the waters in the South China Sea, had earlier objected to the presence of an Indian vessel surveying the area.
China has been opposing India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) exploring oil in wells claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea (SCS) for years. India has been asserting that the ONGC’s exploration is a commercial operation and not connected with the dispute. China claims almost all of the SCS while Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter-claims.