News / Asia

US Withholds Judgment on China Oil Rigs

FILE - In this photo released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese ship (L) shoots a water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel (R) while a Chinese Coast Guard ship (C) sails alongside in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's coast, May 7, 2014.FILE - In this photo released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese ship (L) shoots a water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel (R) while a Chinese Coast Guard ship (C) sails alongside in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's coast, May 7, 2014.
FILE - In this photo released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese ship (L) shoots a water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel (R) while a Chinese Coast Guard ship (C) sails alongside in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's coast, May 7, 2014.
FILE - In this photo released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese ship (L) shoots a water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel (R) while a Chinese Coast Guard ship (C) sails alongside in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's coast, May 7, 2014.
Victor Beattie
The United States says it will withhold judgment for now on the intended destination of four new Chinese oil rigs in the disputed South China Sea.  It appears that Beijing is stepping up its exploration for oil and gas two months after positioning a giant drilling platform in waters also claimed by Vietnam.

China announced Friday it will send another four oil rigs to the South China Sea.  A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said they will operate off the coast of China’s Guangdong and Hainan provinces referring to them as ‘normal activities,’ adding there is no need to read too much into them.

China, Vietnam oil rig dispute, near Paracel IslandsChina, Vietnam oil rig dispute, near Paracel Islands
China, Vietnam oil rig dispute, near Paracel Islands
China, Vietnam oil rig dispute, near Paracel Islands
Last month, China set off a bilateral dispute with neighbor Vietnam by positioning an oil rig off the Paracel Islands and within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).  That sparked bilateral tensions including anti-China rioting in Vietnam, and confrontations between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels near the rig.  High-level talks in Vietnam last week failed to resolve the dispute.

Friday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Washington is aware of reports China is towing additional oil rigs to different locations in the South China Sea.

"I think there’s not a great deal of information at this point as to where they’re headed," she said. "If a rig were placed in disputed waters, which would be a concern.  And, we certainly have a national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in the region, so at this point we don’t have enough information about the intended destinations of these rigs, so we’ll hold back judgment until we know more."

FILE - Screen grab shows the Chinese Coast Guard ship 46001 (L) chasing a Vietnamese vessel near to the site of the Chinese oil rig in the disputed waters in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's central coast.FILE - Screen grab shows the Chinese Coast Guard ship 46001 (L) chasing a Vietnamese vessel near to the site of the Chinese oil rig in the disputed waters in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's central coast.
FILE - Screen grab shows the Chinese Coast Guard ship 46001 (L) chasing a Vietnamese vessel near to the site of the Chinese oil rig in the disputed waters in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's central coast.
FILE - Screen grab shows the Chinese Coast Guard ship 46001 (L) chasing a Vietnamese vessel near to the site of the Chinese oil rig in the disputed waters in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's central coast.
The United States criticized the placement of the first oil rig in early May off the Paracels as provocative and destabilizing.

China, which has competing territorial claims in the South China Sea with Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, claims most of the waters as its inherent, historical territory.

Carl Thayer, professor emeritus at Australia’s University of New South Wales, who returned from a meeting on South China Sea disputes in Vietnam, says the more rigs China puts in place, the more difficult it will be for Hanoi to monitor them.

"One, two, three, four rigs would stretch Vietnamese paramilitary and fishery surveillance forces to the limit," he said. "Vietnam doesn’t have an awful lot of ships, I think there are 40 total in the coast guard, and they are one-half the size and weight of the Chinese vessels, at least.  So, it would be an unequal contest if Vietnam tried adopting the same kind of tactics of protesting."

Thayer says China has already indicated the disputed oil rig off the Paracels is a commercial exploration unit and will only operate between May 2 and August 15, in part due to the onset of the typhoon season.

"But, also by limiting the operations of the oil rig, it has a way to bow out, if you will, gracefully or, as a face-saver, they can just say the commercial activities are over and the rig will be removed," he said.

Thayer says, after August 15, it might be possible for a high-level Vietnamese delegation to go to Beijing in a bid to improve relations.  In any event, he says energy industry executives have told him the location of the Chinese rig is not an ideal place to go to first in search of gas.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: greg789 from: USA
June 24, 2014 9:38 AM
The "old" communist China (1949-1990) invaded or fought border wars with Russia, Vietnam, Korea, India, Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan and naval battles with Vietnam over these islands.

American financiers knew this and still made China a new superpower by shipping China our manufacturing, technology, capital and jobs. They invested in a monster and they are not taking a loss. They will continue to back China's expansion with their control of the U.S. press and government. The U.S. is limited to making a few mewing noises for show and Congress is silent.
In Response

by: badboy from: USA
June 24, 2014 8:19 PM
Just don't know if NATO, EU, US, allies and international community are ether stupid or acting just like one by believing Russia (Putin) renounced invading Ukraine!!! Have they learned anything on the Crimea invasion? How many times Putin claimed the Russians were on Crimea border on training mission, and pledge never to take any military actions by invading Crimea, what happened?

Now.....Ukraine....guess what will happened.....if the West does not act and stop Putin now? I believe the West should go ahead with the Sanctions, they should not hesitate even if Putin shows any kind of slowing down, that's a tactic. Remember, he claimed all those armed men in Crimea were not Russians, days after they grab Crimea, and some other ports.....Putin admitted ....yes they were Russians.

Come on NATO, EU, US don't be stupid, if you don't want to help Ukraine, or other Nato members.......say so but just don't promised and do not delivered it. Japan, has been relying with the US, so does the Phil, and what's happening? Simple.....China.....continue bullying and building schools in someone else land. Don't be naive.....get organized and send some help now otherwise will be to late!!

by: Peter C. Huang from: Mass., USA
June 24, 2014 6:04 AM
If beneath seabed has oil Japan would never have self-support oil only 4%, so Vietnam has so large range of offshore why not there are many opportunity for oil exploration, why must argue that small spot chosen by China for oil exploration, especially the exploration is a large stake with odds. If oil beneath seabed not from reproduction, such as from the fraction of CO2, then where its existing oil from? If it is from the fraction of CO2 and if it is used away the present existed why not it could be reproduced again? If the existing oil not being consumed by exploration why let it be stayed there? Do Vietnam has ability to toss so large amount of cost with venture to explore it?

by: Chris Smith from: US
June 24, 2014 1:35 AM
You got what you deserve Mr. China’s meanbill, go to school learn more of world history then open your mouth. When you are hungry country your leaders knee down in front of US Congress, and now you guy thought that you can use your might to show off a great country, as Thief on right hand and claim a victim on left hand. Now a day Thief country even a billion mix bag ethics still a mix bag ethics, and you never be able to be a Decent Leader country caused you are a thief. Look at a western history, they preserve neighbor culture and civilizations as a model of Democracy. You China never learned a lesson, just one blow of war you guy made off then your own mix bag ethics will have a change to claim their ancient dignity of their own culture and civilization that belong to them.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
June 24, 2014 4:51 PM
@chris, tell me who is the decent leader of the world? The one invaded Iraq with fabricated excuses, bombing innocent villagers in Pakistan and Afghanistan with drones? Incited Ukraine crisis but failed to protect Crimea as promised? Now watching terrorists genocide in Iraq without doing anything. Sorry, China is still hundred times better than this LEADER!

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
June 24, 2014 12:58 AM
The nine dash line was published by ROC, Taiwan. PRC inherited this nine dash line. That's it that's all!
Nothing greedy, nothing aggressive, China only inherited it.
And democratic Taiwan is also claiming the nine dash line.
Enough to say.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
June 26, 2014 9:08 PM
@jimmy, are you stupid? You only inherit properties! South China Sea within the nine dash line, that's the property China inherits.
If my father was the British king, yes I would claim Canada! That's my right!
In Response

by: Jimmy Wong from: US
June 26, 2014 2:09 PM
"Inherited". That's the funniest word I have ever heard in this case. Why didn't China inherit the democracy system from Taiwan but only the nine dash line???

If your dad claim Canada as his kingdom, and he died. Could you inherit Canada as your kingdom? Hell no, it's not his kingdom to begin with.

Enough to say.

by: Peter from: USA
June 24, 2014 12:42 AM
Apparently the US is afraid of the monster they have created. From back in the late 70s when China was in desperation to survive and went to beg discreetly the US for financial assistance in the form of fighting the Vietnamese in 1979 border clash. Vietnam was then under US trade embargo and total isolation. China then saw this as a heaven-sent once in a lifetime opportunity to grab. And they made it until today. From a dirt poor country to a powerful one they feel spoiled and want more and more of the world. Even though they don't want to confront the Vietnamese militarily once again they just want everybody to know who's the boss.

by: Ossie
June 24, 2014 12:31 AM
Phillipines and Malaysia should get together and build on the islands that are in between them, then they will prosper. No man is an island. Otherwise the mainland ( the Big Guy) ( Bully) will win, My enemies enemy is my friend!!!!

by: John from: New Mexico
June 23, 2014 11:47 PM
The fact is that Vietnam has taken most of the islands/reefs (30 of 50, with 7/50 by China), and Vietnam has a hundreds of oil rigs (China has just one) in South China Sea. I can understand why many people blame China, just as most people blame US for all world problems. But as educated people, we have to understand and respect the facts.
In Response

by: Anthony from: Virginia, USA
June 24, 2014 11:30 AM
This is not a problem of how many oil rigs each country has. Instead, we should consider who has the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of this ocean (according to UNCLOS - The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that both Vietnam and China signed on). Therefore, when you said "Vietnam has a hundreds of oil rigs (China has just one)," it is actually a bias statement.
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
June 24, 2014 7:07 AM
To John
Before 1949, there was no dispute. Vietnam held administration over those islands, Hoang Sa(Paracel) and Truong Spratly islands for centuries. There are many ancient maps, photos and documentations around the world to prove it. China only has only a 1949 map like a tongue claiming 90% of East Sea into other country's shore. What a joke.

by: RedevilChina from: USA
June 23, 2014 11:03 PM
If China have no respect other country soventry then the world have no respect for China.

by: alex kitchell from: blah
June 23, 2014 9:37 PM
Yeah, right china thinks they own the world those places their claiming are practically in other countries back yards their own neighbors are complaining they just don't like it when people who can fight back step up
In Response

by: Tom from: Philippines
July 04, 2014 12:49 AM
@Charlie... Dude, you're American? Your English sounds overly Chinese to me! Don't lie and say you are American to make a lame point... If your arguments can't stand on their own, maybe you should rethink them. My thoughts on PRC: don't trust the bastards... Anyone with half a brain knows what they are doing... It's as old as time: build up strength so you can take from the weak... They should take caution with the old saying that "everybody is a tuff guy, until they meet one!"
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
June 24, 2014 8:42 AM
to hotpix4u, why do you think Vietnamese use culture and custom from China. There was new research done and evidence in a book that proves that ancient China copied culture from ancient Vietnam. Furthermore, What make you think Vietnamese women like to marry Chinese me? These Vietnamese who marry foreigners are extremely poor from the countryside. Chinese men are the last option.
In Response

by: Charlie from: Changzhou
June 24, 2014 3:58 AM
I am an American, now working for an American company in China. Talking with Chinese friends and read China history, then I realize that western world is really on-sided, and do not understand China. China has managed, administrated South China sea for thousand years. Philippine was not a country, and Vietnam was part of China (yes, this country was a part of China for a thousand years) at that time. Even Vietnam government has officially said that, in written, that South China sea is China territory.

Both Philippine and Vietnam never have disagreement until South China sea was proved that this region is rich in oil & gas. Remember both Vietnam and Philippine have invaded and occupied some of the islands in South China sea, Vietnam even has several oil rigs in South China sea, but guys,.... do you or US have any noise about this un-fair thing. Only Vietnam and Philippine can occupy other people islands and drill the oil, and China (who is the proper owner of this area) cannot do anything. US should study Asia and China history in order to understand how wrong the western world view point is. China South China sea boundary was submitted to United Nation long before Philippine or Vietnam made their claims. The map was also published by major publishers about the China's South China Sea boundaries.
In Response

by: hotpix4u from: usa
June 24, 2014 12:03 AM
If Vietnamese so hate the Chinese why you use their culture and custom? why in your language, you adopted all Chinese words and thoughts in French spelling?
Why you like to watch Chinese movies and songs to translate to your language? Why your women wanted to marry Chinese? . In order to completely hate the Chinese, can Vietnamese bravely stand up and announce to the world that you will no longer adopt Chinese culture and custom, Vietnamese can establish its own culture and custom.

by: . from: .
June 23, 2014 7:17 PM
"Some Chinese soldiers called it a “painful, little war.” Vietnamese troops avoided battle and instead harassed PLA forces. Some Chinese officers described it as a “ghost war,” since the enemy troops were almost invisible, or a “shadow war,” since it seemed they were fighting against their own shadows. The Vietnamese troops employed the same tactics, made the same moves, and used the same weapons as the Chinese. They knew exactly what the Chinese were trying to do. They exploited almost every problem and weakness the Chinese had. The Chinese troops had to fight their own problems first before they could fight the Vietnamese. Deng’s border war taught the PLA a hard lesson…"
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