BEIJING: Ongoing parley between Vietnam’s communist party head Nguyen Phu Trong and Chinese leaders clearly suggest that Beijing is pressuring Hanoi to cancel its oil exploration deal with India for joint exploration of the disputed areas in South China Sea.
The official Xinhua news agency said Sunday leaders of both countries have agreed that they will not “allow any hostile force to destroy the relations”. They also promised to hold “frequent communication and dialogue on the maritime issues”.
“Both sides will seek steady progress in negotiations regarding the maritime demarcation of the bay mouth of the Beibu Gulf (Gulf of Tonkin) and discuss the joint development of the sea area,” Xinhua quoted an official statement as saying about the disputed area.
A newspaper affiliated to the Communist Party on Sunday went a step ahead saying India was risking its own energy security.
“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 most likely seriously harm India’s whole energy security and interrupt its economic development,” China Energy News, a publication of the People’s Daily, which bellowed to the Communist Party said.
The paper actually warned Indian companies saying they “must not enter into the disputed waters of the South China Sea”.
China is showing signs of a comedown from its earlier stand rejecting Vietnam’s claim to ownership of the disputed island on the South China Sea altogether. It is now ready to talk on the details of the dispute.
Hanoi is clearly caught in a difficult jam because cancelling an exploration contract with India can have repercussions on its oil deals with companies from other countries, sources said. But resisting pressures from China, which is a major trade partner, is not going to be easy. Besides, Beijing is expected to come up with some economic sweeteners as well.
An Indian ship traveling towards the Vietnam coast was recently ordered over radio to leave the area. There is still no confirmation that the radio message came from the Chinese navy, Indian officials sources said.
China claims sovereignty over essentially all of the South China Sea. This has resulted in an overlap with claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.