India might have to pay a heavy price politically and economically if New Delhi goes ahead with exploring underwater natural reserves in the South China Sea, a top strategic expert said Wednesday.
China will not allow any joint exploration there as more than 40% of the maritime area in the South China Sea (SCS) which India wants to explore for oil and natural gas with Vietnam falls in disputed areas, Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NISCSS), said.
In fact, he added that India and the US should extend their cooperation to China to resolve the issue peacefully through largely bilateral negotiations — indicating that it would be best if neither country got involved in the region.
The ONGC Videsh, a public sector company involved in overseas projects, has begun exploring what is said to be abundant reserves of oil and natural gas in the region.
The NISCSS is a top government-affiliated think-tank in China which researches and gives inputs to the Communist Party of China on how to respond to issues about the SCS. It is located in Haikou, the capital of Hainan Island on the SCS.
“The involvement of external actors and joint oil corporations are obstacles against the final settlement of the dispute,” Wu told reporters.
China has a long-standing dispute with a number of neighbouring countries including Vietnam and Philippines over the ownership of islands on the South China Sea.