India-Vietnam ties factor of peace in Asia-Pacific: PM
Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday called India's strategic
partnership with Vietnam "a factor of peace, stability and
development" in the Asia-Pacific region and that it stood "on its
Manmohan Singh's remarks at a joint »
New Delhi: Stepping up
pressure on India to scrap oil deals with Vietnam, China has
indicated that these agreements in South China Sea could
potentially strain bilateral ties.
Liu Weimin, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, Friday
reiterated in Beijing that China has "indisputable sovereignty"
over the South China Sea.
In a veiled warning to India, Liu said that New Delhi and Hanoi
should "instead take positive steps to ensure peace and stability
in the South China Sea", a thorny issue that is set to shadow
bilateral ties and will be discussed in the forthcoming boundary
New Delhi is not ready to be intimidated by what some here see as
India has defended the deal ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) signed for oil
exploration with PetroVietnam in South China sea during the recent
visit of Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang to India, saying the
drilling was meant to be in Vietnamese waters.
Well-placed sources said the project was important for India's
energy security and it was doing nothing violative of
But this hasn't stopped threatening statements from the
state-controlled Chinese media, asking New Delhi to stay away from
Is there a Chinese strategy?
Well-placed sources said Beijing's maximalist plan was to force
India to dump the oil project as China wants to control South
China Sea, a disputed sea over which ir claims full sovereignty.
Last year, the Chinese drove out British Petroleum from drilling
in South China Sea. But Beijing does not have an issue with
companies which venture into South China Sea with Chinese blessing
like Husky Energy of Canada.
"It's coercive diplomacy. They want to drive out OVL. But it does
not like they will succeed," Srikanth Kondapally, a China expert
at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, told IANS.
"If the Chinese Navy attack ONGC facility, it could spark a war. I
don't think China will physically evict OVL. They will continue
the pressure," he said.
"One can expect Beijing to continue this war of words," said
The issue of oil deal will figure in talks between special
representatives of the two countries who meet here for the 15th
round of boundary talks in a few weeks' time, said informed
For now, the Chinese media is leading the charge to pressure India
to back out of the deal it feels has a larger strategic design
"Both countries (India and Vietnam) clearly know what this means
for China. China may consider taking actions to show its stance
and prevent more reckless attempts in confronting China,"
state-run English language Global Times said in a commentary.
It said India was willing to fish in the troubled waters of South
China Sea so as to "accumulate bargaining chips on other issues
China needs to respond with "firm retaliatory measures", it said.
A Chinese trade magazine, published by the Communist party
mouthpiece the People's Daily, warned that India was risking its
energy security by going ahead with the oil deals.
"Challenging the core interests of a large, rising country for
unknown oil at the bottom of the sea will not only lead to a
crushing defeat for the Indian oil company, but will also most
likely seriously harm India's whole energy security and interrupt
its economic development," said China Energy News.
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