Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Beijing warns Manila over oil bid in South China Sea [Global Times]

China’s South China Sea litmus test prior to US and Philippines’ war games in March: will US intervention in the SCS be unacceptable to China this time?

Beijing fires warning salvo at Manila’s oil bid as the Global Times reports that 96.2 percent of 17,000 respondents support sanctions against foreign companies unlawfully exploring resources in waters claimed by Beijing.

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Beijing warns Manila over oil bid in South China Sea
by Yang Jingjie
Source – Global Times, published February 29, 2012

The undated photo shows a Philippine cruiser purchased from the US is patroling near a Philippine oil exploitation platform in offshore areas in the South China Sea. File Photo: cntv.cn 

Observers have urged Chinese petroleum companies to explore oil and natural gas in the South China Sea, after Manila invited foreign investors to exploit resources in waters claimed by Beijing.

They also called on authorities to show military strength in the disputed waters to deter those who “make trouble,” adding that China should not fear any power that meddles in the dispute.

According to the AP, the Philippines invited foreign investors to search for fuel deposits in 15 offshore areas in the South China Sea, including two that are claimed by China.

Energy Secretary Jose Almendras said Monday that Manila would start awarding exploration contracts to some companies next month, but did not say whether the permits would include the two disputed areas.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario as saying that Manila refuses to jointly develop waters near the Liyue Tan, also known as the Reed Bank, of the Nansha archipelago.

“The Reed Bank is an integral part of the Philippines and, as such, cannot be jointly developed,” del Rosario said, adding that Manila is open to allowing Chinese investors to explore the area under Philippine law.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei yesterday reaffirmed Beijing’s indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters.

“It is unlawful for any country or company to explore oil and gas in sea areas under Chinese jurisdiction without the permission of the Chinese government,” said Hong.

He urged relevant countries to adhere to the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and refrain from making moves that will complicate or aggravate the dispute.

A diplomat with the Chinese embassy in the Philippines, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times that the embassy will raise the issue with Manila in accordance with the foreign ministry’s guidance.

Li Jie, a senior captain at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, told the Global Times that Beijing could also send warships or military jets to the South China Sea and stage military drills in the waters, so as to warn “troublemakers” of the possible results of their provocations.

“A tough reaction toward Manila may give Washington an excuse to intervene in the dispute, but China shouldn’t refrain from safeguarding its sovereignty for fear of outside forces,” Li said.

He called on Chinese oil giants such as CNOOC to carry out exploitation projects in the waters in a timely manner.

Zhuang Guotu, dean of the Research School of Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, echoed Li’s view.

“CNOOC has both sufficient funds and technologies to explore offshore oil and gas in the South China Sea. Their stepping in will not only help increase energy supplies for the country, but also safeguard its sovereignty,” Zhuang said.

According to an online survey conducted by the Global Times, 96.2 percent of more than 17,000 respondents supported sanctions against foreign companies that become involved in the unlawful exploring of resources in the South China Sea.

At a recent work conference, Niu Dun, vice minister of agriculture, asked fishery administrations at all levels to reinforce their law enforcement capabilities in the South China Sea, saying that they should “dare to boldly confront those lawbreakers, enforce the law, and safeguard their rights.”

Zhuang said Niu’s remarks have sent a clear message to Manila and other claimants to the disputed waters that Beijing is determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty through heightened law enforcement efforts.

“The authorities could send fishery administration vessels and surveillance ships to those waters to disrupt the survey missions of the Philippines and foreign companies, which will cause them losses,” Zhuang said.

“This will be a litmus test of where China stands on the South China Sea issue,” Ian Storey, a fellow at the Singapore Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, told Reuters.

“They could adopt the same tactics as they did last year and harass the drilling vessels, or they might even take a stronger line against them and send in warships,” Storey said.

Meanwhile, war games between the US military and the Philippine navy are scheduled for March near Liyue Tan.

The US Navy has announced it will deploy its own new amphibious assault vessels, the Littoral Combat Ships, to the “maritime crossroads” of the Asia-Pacific theater, stationing them in Singapore and perhaps the Philippines.

Wang Yingfan, the former ambassador, warned at a forum in Manila last week that US intervention in the South China Sea issue would be unacceptable to China, and Beijing “certainly would react” if that happened.

Agencies contributed to this story


Filed under: ASEAN, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Government & Policy, Greater China, Influence, Infrastructure, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Philippines, Politics, Resources, Soft Power, South China Sea, Strategy, Territorial Disputes, The Chinese Identity, U.S.

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