Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 04:25:13 -0500
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From: Alex G Bardsley "bardsley@ACCESS.DIGEX.NET>
Subject: Fwd: VN,PRC: New maritime dispute (StraitsTimes)
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Vietnam, China in new maritime dispute
In the Straits Times
24 November 1997
HANOI -- Vietnam has protested to China after Beijing granted a US
oil company exploration rights in waters which Hanoi claims as its
exclusive economic zone, an official said yesterday. The Oct 20
decision to grant Atlantic Richfield Corp (Arco) oil and gas
exploration rights could renew tension between the two countries.
Vietnam had sent a firm message to Beijing through "diplomatic
channels", protesting against the contract which allowed Arco and
state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) to develop a
gasfield which partly overlapped Vietnamese territory, the official
"We have to remind them: 'You can do whatever you want, but only in
your own waters'," said an official from the National Border
Committee and the Continental Shelf Committee of the Marine Affairs
He said the Arco concession extended 4.6 km into Vietnamese waters
based on a median line calculated from the two countries'
The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry has so far declined to issue any
Eight months ago, China sparked a diplomatic incident when it set
up an exploration platform in waters claimed by Vietnam.
That dispute, in which Vietnam's Asean partners joined, ended when
Beijing agreed to remove the platform from the Kantan 3 gas field.
Both Kantan and the Arco fields lie in waters between China's
Hainan island and coastal Vietnam, which are not covered by
existing treaties or negotiations between the two countries.
The disputed concession in the Ledong natural gasfield lies close
to the gas-rich Yacheng field, where Arco and CNOOC are building an
offshore pipeline to feed energy-hungry China.
The official said Vietnam had also contacted Arco, advising them to
talk to Vietnamese state-owned PetroVietnam, to discuss a joint
study of the area.
Earlier this week, official Vietnamese newspapers accused China of
re-writing history to justify its maritime claims.
The Spratly islands, which the Vietnamese call Truong Sa, have long
been a simmering focus of dispute between China and Vietnam.
The islands in the South China Sea are also claimed wholly or in
part by Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
Vietnam and China have held regular ministerial-level talks on the
sovereignty question since 1993 but little progress has been made.
Vietnam and China clashed twice over the Spratly islands, in 1988
and 1992. Although it is believed they sit on top of vast reserves
of oil and gas, their commercial potential has never been
Last month's move by Beijing was the latest of several attempts by
both sides to award oil exploration contracts to make de facto
claims on disputed territories.
In 1992, Beijing signed a contract with US firm Crestone Energy
Corp to explore an area near the Spratly islands.
Last year, Hanoi awarded a joint venture contract to US-based
Conoco in an offshore area also claimed by China. -- AFP.
Copyright 1997 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.