No drilling, warns Vietnam

HANOI • Vietnam warned China yesterday against drilling in disputed waters in the South China Sea, after Beijing steered an oil rig at the centre of a previous stand-off between the countries into a stretch where jurisdiction is unclear.

Vietnam closely tracks the movement of the oil rig, which in mid-2014 caused the pair's worst diplomatic breakdown in decades when China parked it for 10 weeks in waters Vietnam considers its own.

The two communist neighbours share more than US$60 billion (S$86.2 billion) in annual trade but anti-China sentiment is strong in Vietnam, where people remain embittered over what many see as a history of Chinese bullying and territorial infringements in the South China Sea.

Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said in a statement that the rig had moved last Saturday to a location where both countries' continental shelves overlap.

There was no immediate response to requests for comment from China, whose US$1 billion deep-water rig is known as Haiyang Shiyou 981.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'No drilling, warns Vietnam'. Print Edition | Subscribe