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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

Time right to develop S China Sea resources

By Xue Li (Global Times)

15:04, October 20, 2011

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

I have drawn a conclusion based on recent years of research on the South China Sea issue and the observation of the latest developments there: on the top of stepping up the exploration of the oil and natural gas resources in the waters near the mouth of the Pearl River and the Island of Hainan, the time is ripe for China to develop oil and natural gas resources near the Xisha and Nansha islands.

The Xisha Islands are China's territory and all islands there have been completely under the control of China since 1974. China has also set the baselines of the territorial sea for the Xisha Islands in the the Law of the People's Republic of China Concerning Territorial Waters and Contiguous Zone released in 1992.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, China is entitled to and can exploit the oil and natural gas resources within its exclusive economic zones, which extend out 200 nautical miles from the baselines.

China will not allow other countries to question the hard facts. China has already generally made clear the oil and natural gas resources near the Xisha Islands and has secured the core deep-sea oil and natural gas exploitation technology. Nevertheless, China’s self-restraint as a result of its big-picture view has not won good responses.

On the contrary, some countries have continued to "nibble" oil and natural gas resources in disputed waters. Therefore, it is unnecessary for China to continue to exercise self-restraint in terms of developing oil and natural resources near the Xisha Islands.

The Nansha Islands are at the center of the South China Sea dispute and involve six countries and seven sides of the Chinese mainland, Chinese Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines as well as Indonesia, which has not occupied any island in the South China Sea but has an exclusive economic zone that covers part of the sea. There have been no comprehensive explorations and evaluations of the reserves of oil and gas in the South China Sea.

The mainland and Taiwan have never exploited the gas and oil resources of the Nansha Islands sea areas, but the five member countries of the ASEAN are greatly exploiting them. From the current situation, it could be seen that it is quite possible that the five member countries of the ASEAN will accelerate exploiting the gas and oil resources of the areas, including the areas both inside and outside of the nine-dotted line. For example, the survey ship of the Philippines carried out a geographical survey in March 2011 in the Reed Tablemount. In addition, it is a known fact that Vietnam and the Philippines are greatly strengthening their naval forces.

For the long run, the ASEAN is a potential partner instead of opponent for China. China's new outlook on security and policy of creating an amicable, secure and prosperous neighborhood will not change.

However, China must clearly realize that the goal of "suspending the dispute and developing the area's resources jointly" depends on flexible and effective measures. Regarding the resource exploitation of the Nansha Islands sea areas, if China pursues the unity by striving, China will succeed; if China pursues the unity by compromising, China will fail.

China's current measures of strengthening the management on the South China Sea are necessary but not enough. The gas and oil exploitation in the South China Sea first is a political and strategic issue and then an economic and technical issue.

The steps that China needs to take right now include: First, China should divide the Nansha Islands region into several sub-areas (First choices are the overlapped areas claimed by different countries and second choices are the seas areas to the north of the Vanguard Bank and the Reed Tablemount sea areas); Second, China, most sincerely and in the spirit of compromise, should invite the related countries to form a joint development organization and survey and exploit the areas jointly.

Third, if the related countries are not willing to participate in it in a certain period, China should unilaterally hold an international bidding. Fourth, if the results of the bidding are not ideal, China should exploit the areas alone and leave the door of cooperation open for the related countries.


Leave your comment9 comments

  1. Name

Ealam Thamilan at 2011-11-1876.66.170.*
It is high time that China answers for its support to Sri lanka.
Sasi at 2011-10-25122.178.182.*
Why cant China be described as a land grabber?
Sasi at 2011-10-25122.178.182.*
Why cant China be described as a land grabber?
ari at 2011-10-21175.137.234.*
Where territorial integrity disputes are concerned, should Beijing make a deal? Such mercantilist approach reflects very poorly on the decision makers. It does not work this way. This is a sell-out to the Chinese people. You can"t reward land grabbers!
elee at 2011-10-21183.39.42.*
One sided or not: Imagine, even the Filipino political pirates were/are ramping Chinese boats like their Japanese counterparts in Chinese waters; but so what with “no, no, no” to apologise? The yelling & cries of the Chinese FM are entirely empty words of temporary discomfort only in order to keep their jobs securely fastened. Since the waters are parts of China, the Chinese navy needs to ramp those pirates off the sea or to simply sink them; then let"s see what can come out of the episodes! Test the water and your muscles in the most appropriate time; and it is now! Since their slinging shits hit your fence, shoot them all off the waters; and start off your own explorations in the areas wholesomely with all your mounting foreign reserves and with willing and financially able partners, if required. Else, do them up all alone with >1.35 billion Chinese & > 3.5 trillion USD equivalent assets plus with readied nuke missiles on your side pockets to carry with as an affirmative protection insurance against any interfering villain. Doing so successfully will definitely provide safe navigational rights to all legal fishing ventures and maritime routines of all nations with clear marker beacons once and for all, otherwise all these historical water margins of rights are forever “no_ man_land status quo that will invite troubles and more serious consequential territorial disputes amounting to fierce armed conflicts and extremely massive wars in the entire region of the Pacific and The Far East Asia, if not the whole of Asia, Europe and The Pacific Ocean again. This wholesome picture of Chinese rights ownership over the waters is not about The South China Sea fiasco alone, but a major war pattern being foreignly designed and covertly devised for a long time like hens patiently hatching over eggs waiting for the chic heads to crack open its shell barriers.

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