China to begin drilling in disputed sea

China to begin drilling in disputed sea

BEIJING - The Associated Press
China to begin drilling in disputed sea

A man paddles by a boat on a bay of Ly Son islands of Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province by the South China Sea. Chine is set to search for oil in thne South China Seab. REUTERS photo

China’s first deep water oil drill is ready to start production in the South China Sea amid an ongoing standoff with the Philippines in another section of the contested waters.

The official Xinhua News Agency says China National Offshore Oil Corp’s rig will start operations Wednesday in an area 320 kilometers southeast of Hong Kong. It will drill at a depth of 1,500 meters, Xinhua said in a report yesterday.

The area where the platform will be stationed does not appear to be under dispute, but southeast of it, ships from China and the Philippines continue a standoff over Scarborough Shoal.

That dispute has been going on since April 10 when the Philippine navy accused Chinese boats of fishing illegally. Both countries claim the shoal.

China’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned a top Philippine diplomat in Beijing to complain over the standoff for the third time in recent weeks.

Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying told Charge D’affaires Alex Chua the Philippines was escalating tensions and making it more difficult to reach a negotiated settlement to the standoff, the ministry quoted her as saying in a statement read on state television’s national noon broadcast.

“It is hoped that the Philippine side will not misjudge the situation, and not escalate tensions without considering consequences,” Fu said.

China submitted a map to the U.N. in 2009 claiming virtually the entire South China Sea, but has not clarified the exact extent of its claims to the 200 islands, coral outcrops and banks spread over the potentially resource rich waters. Other claimants are Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.