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China heats up stance on South China Sea
by Staff Writers
Beijing (UPI) Oct 17, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

China is signaling that agreed-upon energy projects between India and Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea ought to be scraped.

At issue is last week's agreement between India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp and PetroVietnam -- both state-owned companies--- which includes new investments, exploration and the supply of oil and natural gas between the two countries.

The India-Vietnam agreement came a day after China signed a six-point pact with Vietnam to end maritime disputes.

China maintains it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea, while Vietnam asserts competing claims over parts of the sea, including the Spratly Islands. The disputed waters are also claimed in whole or in part by the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

"China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha (Spratly) Islands and the surrounding waters. Our stance and related claims are constant and clear," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a China Daily newspaper report.

"We have noticed the reports and hope related parties instead take positive steps to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea area," he said, referring to the India-Vietnam deal.

China escalated the pressure Sunday through an editorial in a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party, saying that India was risking its own energy security.

"Challenging the core interests of a large, rising country for unknown oil at the bottom of the sea will not only lead to a crushing defeat for the Indian oil company but will also most likely seriously harm India's whole energy security and interrupt its economic development," warned China Energy News, a publication of the People's Daily.

The editorial further stated that Indian companies "must not enter the disputed waters of the South China Sea."

An editorial in China's Global Times, which is published under the authority of the central committee of the Chinese Communist Party, accused India's agreement with Vietnam as being politically motivated, warning that "China may consider taking actions to show its stance and prevent more reckless attempts in confronting China in the area."

The South China Sea has proven oil reserves of around 7.7 billion barrels, with estimates reaching to 28 billion barrels.

Vietnam faces a difficult choice on the issue, sources told the Times of India newspaper. If it cancels the exploration contract with India, it could have repercussions on oil deals with other countries; yet it is hard for Hanoi to resist pressures from China, a major trade partner.

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Gas blast kills eight miners in southwest China
Beijing (AFP) Oct 17, 2011 - A gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in southwest China Monday killing eight people and leaving five missing, state media reported, the latest accident to hit the country's mining industry.

The blast at the Fufa Coal Mine in Chongqing municipality occurred around 1:20 pm when 16 miners were working underground, the local authorities said in a statement quoted by the official Xinhua news agency.

Three miners were rescued, two of whom were injured.

China's mining industry has a notoriously poor safety record. Eleven people were killed Sunday in a similar explosion at a mine in northern China.

In 2010, 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China, according to official statistics -- a rate of more than six workers per day.

Labour rights groups say the actual death toll is likely much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.


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Iraq talks investment with India delegation
Baghdad (AFP) Oct 16, 2011
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani on Sunday called on a visiting Indian delegation to make much-needed investments in Iraq's energy, industry and housing sectors. "Shahristani discussed the means for Indian investment and developing the industrial and oil sectors in Iraq with an Indian delegation," according to a statement from his office. Shahristani's position includes ... read more

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