Days after India and China discussed the issue of oil exploration in the South China Sea,Beijing today warned that it did not want foreign companies to engage in activities in the disputed waters,saying such acts undermine its sovereignty.
Oil exploration activities by India’s ONGC Videsh in the waters off Vietnam had recently irked China and the two countries had differences over the issue.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a media briefing today that the country has more than once made it clear that it did not want outside forces involved in the dispute.
About the South China Sea issue figuring in the Singh-Wen talks,Liu said “as for the discussion on South China Sea issue,China has expounded its position many times”.
“We don’t hope to see outside forces involved in the South China Sea dispute,and do not want to see foreign companies engage in activities that will undermine China’s sovereignty and rights and interests,” he said.
His reference was apparently to ONGC-Videsh undertaking oil exploration in two blocks claimed by Vietnam.
India has already said that exploration of oil and gas in the South China Sea was purely a commercial activity and the dispute should be sorted out under the international laws and practices.
China for its part maintains that the dispute involving it,Vietnam,Philippines,Brunei and Malaysia should be resolved bilaterally with these countries.
However,Liu sounded upbeat over the outcome of last week’s meeting between the Prime Ministers and said “no power” can prevent the two countries from advancing their ties.
“During the meeting,the Chinese side expressed willingness to work with the Indian side to pursue the path of friendship and cooperation,and push forward bilateral relations,” Liu said.
He was replying to a question on the outcome of the Singh-Wen meeting in the backdrop of reports that the South China Sea issue on which the two countries have different perceptions figured in the talks.
“On business cooperation,the two sides enjoy great cooperation potential and we hope to continue to create favourable conditions for the free flow of commodities,technology,finance and services,and encourage enterprises from both sides to invest and have contract cooperation to the benefit of both countries and peoples,” Liu said.
He said the Indian side also stated that the strategic cooperation partnership is beneficial to both countries.
“There is no power in the world that can prevent the development of bilateral relations between the two countries,” he said apparently referring to US efforts to isolate China on the South China Sea dispute.
Answering a spate of questions on the issue which dominated the just-concluded ASEAN and East Asia Summits,Liu denied that China was isolated in the backdrop of efforts by the US to rally other countries to press for a multilateral approach to resolve the sea dispute.
“I do not agree with the term isolation you used. In general,the ASEAN meeting centred on the theme of cooperation,development and solidarity,and has yielded practical results,” Liu said.
On South China Sea,Liu said,Premier Wen’s statement is clear,that is the East Asia Summit is not an appropriate venue for discussion of South China Sea issue.
“China’s position on this is clear and consistent. That is,the dispute should be solved between countries directly concerned through friendly consultation and negotiation.
“Outside intervention or bringing the issue to a multilateral forum will only complicate the issue and will not help resolve the issue,” he said.
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