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China Economic Times: Wield the Carrot and the Stick in South China Sea Oil Development

On August 27, an official from the China Petroleum Enterprise Association published an article on China Economic Times titled, “(China) needs to wield both the carrot and the stick in South China Sea oil development.” In May of 2014, in order to perform oil and gas exploration, China, for the first time, moved its giant oil rig into the South China Sea. The placement was 120 miles from Vietnam’s shore and was within Vietnam’s continental shelf and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In the middle of July, China moved its oil rig out of the area. The China Petroleum Enterprise Association official stated in his article that the aggressive and victorious “move in” and “move out” was a declaration of China’s “oath.” That is, China made the statement, “I have the sovereignty.” “This is my place. … I have my reasons for coming and going. Others have no right to point fingers or make any irresponsible remarks.”

The article concluded that, when facing such a complicated dispute, China can, while wielding the stick, also offer some carrots. That is, we can hide our capabilities and bide our time. Using the premise that we have sovereignty over the South China Sea, when we take the initiative to do self-development, China does not need to exclude others from joining us for co-development. By offering opportunities for cooperation, China can force the opponent back to the negotiating table and eventually realize joint development. In some highly disputed areas in the South China sea, China can unite foreign oil companies for co-development. If the conditions permit, China should actively push forward joint venture development between China’s state-owned oil companies and Taiwanese oil companies.

Source: China Economic Times, August 26, 2014