“Any oil and gas exploration work should get approval first from China,” said a top official of China’s ministry of foreign affairs (MFA). The official added that pending the final settlement of territorial disputes in South China Sea, China would encourage “joint development” in the region.
The official made the remark in reply to a query from TOI in a recent meeting – facilitated by the US-based East-West Center – with a group of international journalists. The meeting took at a time of fresh acrimony between the US and China over Beijing’s reclamation and island building in South China Sea. According to US authorities, China has reclaimed 1,500 acres in the Spratly island chain in the past 5 months alone by dredging sand.