While You Were in Europe: South China Sea Military Flare-up Ahead?

While the world is busy with the old’s world’s problems, troubling stuff in SE Asia over oil between India and China:

India is being pulled into a complex and increasingly tense territorial dispute in the South China Sea, with China repeatedly warning ONGC, the Indian state oil company, that its joint exploration plans with Vietnam amount to a violation of Chinese sovereignty.

The Indian government responded to the latest Chinese warnings Thursday by repeating its pledge to continue exploring for energy in the South China Sea, where China is embroiled in territorial disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

ONGC, meanwhile, said it planned to resume drilling next year at one of its two remaining blocks in the area, after a temporary suspension there because of a hard seabed, and after relinqishing another block last year because it lacked production potential.

“We plan to restart drilling there,” said ONGC Chairman A.K. Hazarika. “The [Indian] Ministry of External Affairs has informed us that the block is well within the territory of Vietnam and so there are no issues with exploration there.”

The testy public exchanges follow an unusual incident in July when, according to the Indian government, an Indian navy ship visiting Vietnam as part of expanding bilateral defense ties received a radio message warning it that it was entering Chinese waters. China has dismissed India’s version of the incident as “groundless.”

Analysts say the fresh standoff between Asia’s two emerging economic and military giants, which fought a brief war over their disputed Himalayan land borders in 1962, increases the risk of a military flare-up in the South China Sea.

More here.