Controversy over the South China Sea flared up again recently, with countries like the Philippines not only claiming sovereignty but starting to exploit natural resources in the area.
China hasn’t openly responded to such blatant gestures, and some are wondering why.
China, the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims to all or parts of the sea.
Those familiar with the situation observe that deep-sea oil drilling requires sophisticated technology, and neighboring countries are leveraging on the know-how of foreign companies.
It’s not that easy for China to go the same route. As a big oil user, it has several leading oil firms of its own, and partnering with competitors is difficult.
Therefore, China must develop its own related technology, which is limiting its ability to exploit oil resources in the South China Sea and other regions on a larger scale.
However, there have been some breakthroughs this year – China has successfully constructed its first deep-sea oil rig, expanding the depth of its underwater operating capabilities to beyond 914 meters.
Such technological advancement represents a major step forward in the exploitation of deep-sea resources.
As China faces a shortage of natural resources, deep-sea mining is set to be one area in which it will heavily invest and explore.
From an investment perspective, it spells opportunities for companies in this sector. Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily