South China Sea seen as potential area of conflict


China’s deepwater drilling rig in the South China Sea, which Vietnam considers is its territorial water, has been condemned as illegal by the latter and ordered to be removed.

The USD 1 billion rig is owned by China’s state-run CNOOC oil company and this country claims almost the entire oil and gas rich South China Sea, rejecting rival claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, Reuters reported.

The Maritime Safety Administration of China (MSAC) announced on its website that all vessels should keep one mile (1.6 km) away from the rig, called the Haiyang Shiyou 981.

Nevertheless, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman objected to the Chinese announcement, saying the coordinates of the oil rig put it in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf, about 120 nautical miles off its coast, as defined by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

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