Chinese Energy and Asian Security

In early March 1997, a Chinese oil rig, the Kantan III, entered the waters between Hainan Island and the Vietnamese coast to explore for oil and natural gas in what Beijing considered a part of its Ledong exploration area. Vietnam, claiming the same area as part of its Block 113, protested vigorously. After some inconclusive talks between the two countries, the oil rig withdrew. About a year later, Vietnam again complained when a Chinese exploration ship and two armed fishing boats sailed near the Spratly Islands. These vessels also withdrew without incident.

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