Vietnam halts South China Sea drilling ‘after Chinese threats’

Bangkok: China has threatened to attack Vietnamese bases over gas drilling in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, according to diplomatic sources in Hanoi and the Asian oil industry.
Vietnam responded by ordering a subsidiary of the Spanish company Repsol, which was doing the drilling, to leave the area called Block 136-03, about 400 kilometres off Vietnam’s south-east coast, the sources said.
Carl Thayer, an expert on Vietnam and the South China Sea from the Australian Defence Force Academy, says the threats are “an alarming escalation of Chinese assertiveness and forms part of an emerging pattern of increased Chinese bellicosity”.
“China’s threat to use force against Vietnam will accelerate the ongoing strategic debate in the United States and other allied capitals about how to halt, if not reverse, China’s continued militarisation of the South China Sea,” he said.