China has positioned its coast guards near ONGC’s South China Sea blocks, says Vietnam
A Chinese coast guard ship (Representational image) | Wikipedia

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New Delhi: China has positioned its coast guard vessels near ONGC Videsh’s South China Sea blocks that are engaged in oil and gas production, creating a potentially “dangerous” situation, according to a top Vietnamese official.

The situation is so grave that Hanoi is even contemplating taking the matter to the UN Security Council (UNSC), the Vietnamese official said, adding that China is taking advantage of the global geopolitical situation.

The official said that with the world’s attention focused on tensions between India and Pakistan, US sanctions on Iran and Brexit among others, Beijing is having a field day in the South China Sea, positioning its seismic ship, coast guard vessels, fishing ships and service ships inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone where the blocks are located.

“ONGC blocks are now threatened. The Chinese are coming there and telling foreigners to vacate the place,” the Vietnamese official said. “We have already informed India but nothing has happened. Although the work on the ONGC blocks continues, the situation can rapidly deteriorate.”

According to the official, China has also sent a bomber in the region, escalating the tensions further.

ThePrint reached the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and ONGC but there was no immediate response. The report will be updated when they do.

Also read: ONGC says it’s not facing a fund crunch despite falling cash balance

Tension building for over a month

The Vietnamese official said China had taken an aggressive stance in the region in 2011, 2014 and again now. On 3 July, the official said, Beijing made its first move when it sent its vessels to the region.

The official added that the Chinese then went to a nearby artificial island on 7 August only to return with a bigger force on 13 August. Since then, they have positioned themselves there.

ONGC runs the block in collaboration with the Russian energy major Rosneft. The Vietnamese have taken up the matter with Moscow as well.

India, meanwhile, has attempted to downplay the entire situation. New Delhi has maintained that it adheres to laws laid down by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The development comes ahead of an informal meeting scheduled between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in India in October. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was in Beijing earlier this month to pave the way for the visit. This will be the second such meeting post the Wuhan summit that was held in China last year.

Also read: Tobacco companies in China are opening schools, and the Chinese welcome it


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