Vietnam has claimed that Chinese soldiers have asked ONGC Videsh to stop work at this Block.
New Delhi: A fresh stand-off between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea (SCS) has the potential to disturb the equation between Beijing and New Delhi.
Vietnam has alerted India about the presence of two Chinese Coast Guard ships in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in South China Sea (SCS) where ONGC Videsh is engaged in oil exploration at Block 06.1. Vietnam has claimed that Chinese soldiers have asked ONGC Videsh to stop work at this Block.
“The Chinese Coast Guards came to this Block on August 13 and are making announcement through speakers asking work to stop. They (Chinese) thought the protest will be minimum from our side. But this blatant violation has been brought to the notice of India. As of now ONGC continues to be present there and work has not stopped.
We have also sent our Coast Guard ships where ONGC Videsh is working. We will resolutely and persistently protect interests of Vietnam and ONGC if they are physically stopped from working in the oil field,” a Vietnamese diplomatic source told The Asian Age on Wednesday.
While the two neighbours were recently engaged in a month long stand-off from July 3, the Chinese never ventured to the area where ONGC Videsh is engaged in oil exploration, Vietnamese source said.
However, the source added, that on August 13, Chinese were back again in its EEZ with 20 ships out of which two are on a daily basis are hanging around Block 06.1 and asking the Indian company to stop work.
ONGC has two oil fields in Vietnam EEZ – Block 06.1 and Block 0-5. ONGC was awarded contract for Block 06.1 in 1988 but the commercial activities here began in 2002. This block is jointly owned by ONGC, Rosneft, and PetroVietnam.
China, that claims majority of the SCS, has always objected to India’s presence in the SCS which is considered more for strategic reasons than commercial.
With regard to SCS, India has underlined the “importance to freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in the international waters in accordance with international laws, notably the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982,” while adding it “stands for the peaceful resolution of disputes, including through respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, and in accordance with international laws.”
New Delhi has been treading cautiously trying not to become party to a bilateral dispute between Vietnam and China. In fact, reports in the past have claimed that ONGC has sought shifting to another block in Vietnam to reduce friction with Beijing.
Meanwhile, Hanoi has stepped up its diplomatic outreach against the Chinese incursion. Diplomatic sources in New Delhi said Vietnam is also contemplating moving to United Nations Security Council over the issue of Chinese intimidation in SCS. “If China can raise Kashmir for Pakistan at the UNSC, we too can go to UNSC for an open discussion on the violations by China,” said the diplomatic source of Vietnam. He added that protests cannot be ruled out Chinese embassy in New Delhi and other countries. Vietnam is also contemplating legal action against China.