World / Opinion

Drilling is legal and legitimate

By Jin Yongming (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-09 08:10

Despite Japan's attempts at the G7 summit in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday to get the G7 leaders to blame China for the rising tensions in the East and South China seas, the G7 leaders said in a communiqué they are deeply concerned by the tensions and oppose any unilateral attempt by any party to assert its territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force, but without naming any specific country.

The essence of the South China Sea issue is the territorial disputes over some islets and reefs of the Nansha Islands and the Xisha Islands and the resulting disputes over maritime demarcation. The former is the main dispute and the latter secondary. Because of the complexity and sensitivity of the territorial issues involved, no country wants to compromise or make concessions.

The location of China National Offshore Oil Corporation's Haiyang Shiyou 981 drilling platform is 17 nautical miles (31.5 kilometers) southeast of Zhongjian Island, one of China's Xisha Islands, and about 150 nautical miles from the coastline of Vietnam, it falls indisputably within the contiguous zone of China's Xisha Islands.

In September 1958, Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong solemnly stated in a note to Premier Zhou Enlai that Vietnam recognizes and supports the Declaration of the Government of the People's Republic of China on China's territorial sea that the breadth of the territorial sea of China should be 12 nautical miles and that this provision should apply to all territories of China, including the Xisha Islands and the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. Pham Van Dong's note shows that the Vietnamese government acknowledged China's sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands. Vietnam's claim to sovereignty of the Xisha Islands today is in violation of the principle of estoppel.

China issued a statement on May 15, 1996, announcing the geographical coordinates on the base points and straight baselines of the Xisha Islands. Therefore, China can claim an exclusive economic zone that extends 200 nautical miles from these baselines. China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha islands, and China's drilling operation falls within China's sovereign territory, sovereign rights and jurisdiction and thus is fully legal and legitimate. Vietnam's dangerous actions against China's drilling platform in the contiguous zone of the Xisha Islands must be resolutely opposed.

In response to the provocations of the Vietnamese side, China has continued to exercise restraint for the sake of regional peace and stability and it is willing to solve the South China Sea disputes with the countries directly concerned through bilateral coordination and negotiation on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law. This is an important consensus reached between China and relevant countries, and is also in line with the interests and aspirations of the majority of countries and peoples in this region.

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