Beijing: Terming India's plans to conduct oil exploration off Vietnam coast in the South China Sea as "illegal", a state-run Chinese daily today said it is an "unwise move" that may "sabotage" positive momentum in ties.
"India's intention to once again explore for oil in the disputed waters of the South China Sea is an unwise move, as it will further complicate the maritime disputes and do a disservice to maintaining the positive momentum that has been achieved in China-India ties," the China Daily said in an editorial.
Titled 'India should rethink its oil exploration plans', the editorial said according to reports India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation plans to restart exploration activities in the waters off Vietnam's coastline which are "also claimed by China".
"The Indian company should be told: Without the permission from the Chinese government, activities conducted by any foreign company in these disputed waters are illegal," it said. About India's response to such criticism in the past that it is an economic activity which has no bearing on the dispute, the daily said, "New Delhi may deem its oil exploration activities in the South China Sea purely economic in nature.
But, considering the already existing tensions in the South China Sea, New Delhi's move will only aggravate the situation." Significantly, China defends its plans to build an economic corridor with Pakistan through PoK as a commercial activity aimed at improving people's livelihoods.
"What's more, the meddling of outside forces, such as the United States, in the maritime disputes in these waters has already disrupted regional efforts to resolve them peacefully," the daily said. "As a country near the disputed waters, India should respect and support the efforts of the countries involved to resolve their disputes through bilateral channels, as it too has a stake in peace and stability in the waters," it said.
China has lodged protests in the past when ONGC conducted drilling at the invitation of Vietnam. "Both Beijing and New Delhi have devoted a lot of efforts, especially at the highest-level, to improve their meaningful interaction and keep their differences at bay. Both countries should be aware that it is in their mutual interests to continue to propel the current desirable momentum in bilateral ties," the editorial said.
"They should not entertain any doubt that they have everything to gain by deepening cooperation in areas they are both interested in. And they should avoid taking missteps that may sabotage the good development of their ties," it said.