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Do not infringe on sovereignty in S China Sea

Beijing: Taking strong exception to India going ahead with the oil exploration programme in the blocks claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea, China today raised its pitch saying any exploration activity in its coast would amount to "infringement" of its sovereignty.

"China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and our position is based on full historical and jurisprudential evidence," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hong Lei told a media briefing here today.

"Any country engaged in oil and gas exploration activities in this jurisdiction without the approval of the Chinese government constitutes an infringement upon China`s sovereignty and national interest and are therefore illegal and invalid," he said.

"We hope relevant countries keep China`s claim, position and rights and interest in mind, follow the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and Guidelines in real earnest, refrain from unilateral actions that may complicate and magnify the dispute.

Countries outside the region should respect efforts by regional countries to solve this dispute through bilateral negotiations," he said.

Asked whether China expects that India and Vietnam should take its permission for oil exploration, Hong said China`s historical and jurisprudential evidence prove that China first discovered the first South China Sea islands and was the first to exercise administration over the islands.

"Since then China has management and control over these islands which form the historical rights of China in the South China Sea.

Specifically, since the Han Dynasty China discovered the relevant islands and since the Tang Dynasty successive Chinese governments have exercised administration over the islands," he said.

"When the People`s Republic of China was formed in 1949, the Chinese government continues to exercise administration over the relevant islands and this is formed over the long course of history and has been adhered to by the Chinese government.

China is committed to on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law resolve the differences through friendly consultation in a peaceful manner," he said.

To another question whether the explorations outside of the 12 nautical miles from the reefs and shoals area of the Islands will be ok with China, Hong said, "I would like to emphasise that any country or company without the approval of the Chinese government engaged in oil and gas exploration and development activities in the waters in China`s jurisdiction constitute infringement on China`s sovereignty and national interest," he said.

India for its part said that the ONGC Videsh oil exploration programme with Vietnam was very much under international law and would go ahead with it.

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