The Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman has objected to a Chinese company's call for bid to an oil block in the East Sea, saying it was a violation of Vietnam's sovereignty, Vietnam News Agency reported.
According to the news report, block 65/12, which is among 26 blocks that the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) started offering to foreign investors on August 28, is located some three sea miles from Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago.
"China's invitation for international bids at the block has seriously violated Vietnam's sovereignty over Hoang Sa," spokesperson Luong Thanh Nghi said at a press conference on Friday.
It was also against the "shared awareness of the countries' leaders," and the Declaration on Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea that ASEAN countries and China signed in 2002, according to Nghi.
"It is an illegal and invalid action," the spokesperson said. "Vietnam objects to such action by China and demands China immediately cancel the invitation for international bids at the block."
On June 23, CNOOC also invited foreign companies to jointly develop nine blocks in the East Sea (also known as the South China Sea), all of which are situated inside Vietnam's exclusive economic zone. The invitation then drew criticisms and opposition from Vietnamese and international experts.