China has refused Vietnam’s call for it to withdraw its oil exploration rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea, saying the drilling was within the Chinese territory.
“As far as I have learned, the Maritime Safety Administration of China issued a navigation notice on May 3 related to China’s 981 drilling rig. Relevant drilling work is totally within waters off China’s Xisha islands,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
Hua said there was no controversy over the matter and urged the United States not to intervene.
Daniel Russel, Assistant US Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in Hong Kong on Tuesday the US was looking into the matter and urged caution from all parties.
The China Maritime Safety Administration posted a navigational warning on its website that the CNOOC 981 rig would be drilling in the South China Sea from May 4 to Aug. 15 in an area close to the Paracel Islands, which are controlled by China but also being claimed by Vietnam.
Vietnam’s foreign ministry said the area where the rig was placed is within the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as stipulated in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
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