Foreign cos should keep off South China Sea: China

Oil exploration activities by India`s ONGC Videsh in the waters off Vietnam had recently irked China.

Updated: Nov 21, 2011, 17:44 PM IST

Beijing: Days after India and China discussed
the issue of oil exploration in the South China Sea, Beijing
on Monday warned that it did not want foreign companies 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.

The South China Sea dispute figured in talks between Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao
in Bali last week on sidelines of East Asia and ASEAN summits.

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 collaboration, 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.

PTI