New Delhi: The Government today said it had clearly conveyed to China that the oil and gas exploration activities by Indian companies in the South China Sea off the Vietnam coast are purely commercial in nature and the dispute should be sorted out in accordance with international laws.
Oil exploration activities by India’s ONGC Videsh in the South China Sea waters off Vietnam had recently irked China, which claims the region as its own and says activities by foreign companies in its waters undermine its sovereignty.
“Government has clearly conveyed (China) that such activities by Indian companies is purely commercial in nature and that sovereignty issues must be resolved peacefully by the countries which are parties to the dispute in accordance with international law and practice,” E Ahamed, Minister of State for External Affairs, informed Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
The South China Sea dispute has also figured in talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao in Bali last month on the sidelines of East Asia and ASEAN summits.
According to Ahamed, sovereignty over the areas of the South China Sea is disputed between many countries and India is not a party to that.
“As two developing countries with growing energy needs, India and Vietnam have been cooperating in the oil and gas industry to enhance their energy security,” he explained.
In another reply, the Minister said India doesn’t have any information whether China has built a military airstrip in Coco island, too close to Andaman and Nicobar islands.
“No information has come to our notice of any recent activities by China in this regard,” he said.