China ends drilling operation in disputed sea

Beijing says it will relocate rig having ended exploration in section of South China Sea disputed with Vietnam.

    When it announced the deployment of the rig, China said it would withdraw it on August 15 [Reuters]
    When it announced the deployment of the rig, China said it would withdraw it on August 15 [Reuters]

    China has ended drilling and exploration operations at an oil rig it deployed in a section of the South China Sea disputed with Vietnam and will relocate the unit, Chinese state media has said.

    Beijing deployed the massive rig in early May, close to the Paracel Islands, triggering a furious reaction in Vietnam and the most serious increase in tensions in the waters in years.

    Hanoi demanded Beijing withdraw the rig, and sent ships to the region to try and disrupt the operations. The Chinese move triggered protests in Vietnam and deadly anti-Chinese riots.

    Beijing says it had done nothing wrong because the waters belonged to it.

    News agency Xinhua said China National Petroleum announced the end of the operation on Tuesday, citing the beginning of the typhoon season, the AP news agency reported.

    It said the rig would be relocated to operations close to China's Hainan Island.

    The report said the company found oil and gas during the operation, but was assessing the data gathered before deciding its next move.

    'Undermines peace and stability'

    It has always been unclear whether the China deployed the rig for genuine commercial reasons or as part of strategy of staking out its territorial claims in the region.

    When it announced the deployment, Beijing said it would withdraw it on August 15.

    The deployment of the rig was seen as a highly provocative move by China, which claims nearly all of the South China Sea, bringing it into conflict with Vietnam, the Philippines and other nations.

    Beijing's growing economic and military might is unnerving many countries in the region, as well as the United States, which is seeking closer ties with Southeast Asia to try to contain China.

    The US criticised the rig placement "as part of a broader pattern of Chinese behaviour to advance its claims over disputed territory in a manner that undermines peace and stability in the region".

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?