Beijing: China on Wednesday cautioned India against any "unilateral" attempt to pursue oil exploration in the disputed South China Sea, saying that it is opposed to nations outside the region to intervene in the disputed area.     


"China opposes any unilateral oil and gas exploration activities in disputed areas in the South China Sea and hopes relevant countries respect China's sovereignty and national interests, as well as the efforts of countries within the region to resolve disputes through bilateral negotiations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday.
Lei was reacting to Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi's remarks that Indian Navy was prepared to deploy vessels to the South China Sea to defend India's economic interests there.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said that Joshi's remarks were misrepresented. The reporting on Joshi's remarks amounted to stretching the truth, Menon said, while wrapping up his three-day visit on Tuesday. He said Chinese side has not raised the issue with him during the talks.

While reporting Joshi's remarks, state-run Global Times said India is not a direct claimant of disputed islands in the South China Sea, but a deal signed by the Indian explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Vietnam in October last year to explore the oil and gas block in the disputed waters has sparked a diplomatic row between Beijing and New Delhi.

"The close historical and religious ties between India and Southeast Asian nations give India the advantage in asserting its role in the region," said Zhuang Guotu, head of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University.

"The real threat posed by India to China is the military cooperation between India and Vietnam. Moreover, India is now controlling several Indian Ocean islands at the entrance of the Malacca Strait, an international energy channel that sees 80 percent of Chinese oil imports passing by every year," said Du Jifeng, an Asia-Pacific issues researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"As for China, India poses far less of a threat than the US and Japan, because what India can offer to Southeast Asian nations is much less than what the US and Japan can offer," Zhuang said.


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