We have genuine trade, economic interests in SCS: MEA


We have genuine trade, economic interests in SCS: MEA

New Delhi: India on Thursday made it clear that there had been no stop in Indian oil exploration activities (in Vietnamese waters) despite reports of brewing tension between China and Vietnam in South China Sea. The MEA said India had “significant economic and trade interests” in the area and had a “genuine interests” in “access to major waterways” in that region.

“To the best of my knowledge, there is no stoppage of (Indian) oil exploration,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to a question. He said there was “no change in our position”.

Even as tension brews between old rivals China and Vietnam in waters that Vietnam views as part of its Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ), sources had earlier said there are indications that India is hoping that both Beijing and Hanoi resolve the issue bilaterally. Vietnam and China have a maritime dispute in the region. However, New Delhi is understood to be watching the situation closely in the wake of reports of Chinese naval vessels monitoring activity in waters that Vietnam considers its own EEZ.

New Delhi has been conducting oil exploration activities in cooperation with Hanoi within waters that Vietnam considers being its own EEZ. Diplomatic sources indicated to this newspaper that the reported movement of Chinese vessels in waters in the area — that seems to have triggered the latest round of maritime tension between China and Vietnam — could be “somewhat near” to the site of Indian oil exploration efforts in the maritime region.

New Delhi is treading cautiously since the countdown has already begun to the second informal summit in India in October this year between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Moreover, External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar will also visit China next month. New Delhi is keen that the upward momentum in Sino-Indian ties should not be derailed.

Both Vietnam and China are believed to be keeping India in the loop about the developments. So far as Indian oil block exploration efforts with Vietnam are concerned, the ONGC-Videsh already has a presence in Vietnam. It had earlier been agreed with Vietnam that more productive oil blocks would be offered to India. A then senior Indian government official had stated in January last year that India looks forward to such oil blocks being offered. New Delhi’s position then had made it amply clear that India would not allow the reported Chinese objections in this regard to deter it from oil exploration efforts.


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