Published On: Tue, Aug 27th, 2019

South China Sea latest update: Beijing is ‘blocking’ access to billions of pounds of oil | World | News

China’s “nine-dash line” which is a vague, discredited borderline used by Beijing to claim nearly the entire sea overlaps with it with Vietnam’s UN backed claim. The US is primed to insure that China does not have full control over the vast hydrocarbon resources to be explored. The US State Department is aware of the value of the sea’s largely untapped oil and gas reserves, and the US’s interest in having its own oil companies involved in joint projects with Southeast Asian nations.

A statement from the US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus reads in part: “China’s actions undermine regional peace and security and impose economic costs on Southeast Asian states by blocking their access to an estimated $2.5 trillion (£2trillion) in unexploited hydrocarbon resources.

“US companies are world leaders in the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbon resources, including offshore and in the South China Sea.

“The United States therefore strongly opposes any efforts by China to threaten or coerce partner countries into withholding cooperation with non-Chinese firms, or otherwise harassing their cooperative activities.”

This week, the US State Department used blunt language regarding China’s unsettling actions within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

This has lead to the US navy conducting its first-ever combined maritime exercise with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, aimed at creating “maritime security building” and involving “prevention and suppression of illegal activities in the seas.”

China aims to secure exclusive access to areas within the Nine-Dash line for its own oil giants.

One exception allowed for now is Vietnam’s current drilling projects with Russian oil firms, including Rosneft and Gazprom, with Beijing disinclined to confront Moscow, an otherwise increasingly useful ally on the geopolitical stage.

The Nine-Dash Line refers to the demarcation line used by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for their claims of the major part of the South China Sea.

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She said there lacked an “unanimous kind of decision yet”.

She added: “There is nothing wrong with going one step forward and two step backwards, at least someone steps forward, at least we keep moving.”

Paul Chambers a university academic in Thailand, said: “Thailand does not really want to have to handle this sensitive issue while she is the Asean chair so by saying the matter might take years to finish, Bangkok is effectively punting the matter to the next Asean chair – Vietnam – and to future Asean meetings.”

The membership of ASEAN contains Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam as members with Papua New Guinea and East Timor as having observer status.

China along with Japan and South Korea are part of ASEAN plus three and Beijing has a free trade agreement with the block.

The host of ASEAN’s summits in 2021 and its chairmanship has not yet been confirmed.

However, the last time the proceeding four countries to hold the role were Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and The Philippines, Indonesia came next in 2011.

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