Beijing: Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday refused to join issue with India over its assertion to go ahead with oil exploration cooperation with Vietnam in the South China Sea despite Beijing's objections, but an influential official daily said the move constituted ‘serious political provocation’ and should be ‘resolutely stopped’.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu declined to react to External Affairs Ministry's assertion on Thursday that India's cooperation with Hanoi for oil exploration is in accordance with the international law and is set to grow.
Following China's objections to ONGC's oil exploration projects in two Vietnamese blocks in South China Sea, to which Beijing lays claim, India had brushed off China's objections.
Asked her reaction, Jiang said she has already given an elaborate response on Thursday and declined to add further to her comments that China has indisputable sovereignty over South China Sea and its islands and Beijing is opposed to any country engaged in oil and gas exploration there.
However, China appears to be seriously exercised over this issue as the state-run Global Times, in a hard hitting editorial, said Vietnam's efforts to rope in foreign companies does not simply concern exploration but also a ‘serious political provocation’.
"Both Vietnam and the companies are clear about this but fake innocence. But as opposition and pressure increases, their venturous action is less likely to succeed," it said.
"As for ONGC (which has been given contract by Vietnam), China should resolutely stop it from pursuing this course of action. Reasoning many used first, but if India is persistent in this, China should try every means possible to stop this cooperation from happening," it said. The editorial said India's ambition is growing along with its rapid economic growth and some Indians even regard its intervention in the South China Sea as being able to counter China's presence in the Indian Ocean.
It said the joint exploration between India and Vietnam may be seen as an Indian test of China's will as "India is seeking influence akin to US in the region".
"China and relevant countries should digest the conflicts within the South China Sea, but when other countries step in, China should oppose them with all involved having to share the blame and resulting losses," it said.
"Chinese society has already been indignant about India's intervention in the Dalai (Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama) problem. India should bear in mind that its actions in the South China Sea will push China to the limit. China cherishes the Sino-Indian friendship, but this does not mean China values it above all else," it said.
"Nevertheless, China also should remain calm and not take rash actions. China's strategic environment is complicated, which should hold it to keep it mature. Whoever has a problem with, this will find that China is determined but not vengeful," it said.