China opposes any activities that violate its sovereignty and jurisdiction over the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said yesterday.
He made the remarks at a regular press briefing after being asked to comment on the oil exploration deal signed between US oil giant Exxon Mobil and Vietnam's state oil firm.
Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Sunday that Exxon Mobil had recently signed a preliminary cooperation agreement with Vietnamese state-owned oil firm PetroVietnam on an exploration project in the South China Sea.
"China's position over the South China Sea is clear and consistent, and the Chinese side has stated its position to relevant parties involved in the deal," Liu said.
"We oppose any activities that infringe on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the South China Sea."
Chinese diplomats in Washington earlier spoke to Exxon Mobil executives, saying the project is a breach of Chinese sovereignty and if the company goes ahead with it, its future business on the mainland could be threatened, the Sunday Morning Post cited unnamed sources close to the US firm as saying.
Countries like Vietnam and the Philippines have occupied several uninhabited islands and reefs in the South China Sea through military means. They have also destroyed the marks of Chinese sovereignty, and arrested, detained or driven Chinese fishermen away from the islands, a report published in 2000 by the Foreign Ministry claimed.
However, the Chinese government has always advocated the settlement of disputes through peaceful means and diplomatic consultation, and China opposes any involvement of external forces, which only further complicate the problem, the document said.
Last year, during a visit by Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet to China, the two countries agreed to promote common development in the South China Sea.
(China Daily July 23, 2008)