China on Saturday announced plans to expand its seabed mineral explorations in the Indian Ocean after an international authority approved its bid to mine for polymetallic sulphide ore, much to the surprise of India.
Beijing has already got approval to explore in a 10,000 sq km seabed area in southwest Indian Ocean for the ore and now it plans to invest more to expand the "depth and scope of oceanic research". Following the approval, China's Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association is set to sign a 15-year exploration contract with the International Seabed Authority later this year granting pre-emptive rights for it to develop the ore deposit in future, state run Xinhua reported.
"We will expand the depths and scope of oceanic research and improve our understanding of the ocean, with special focuses on the polar regions and deep sea environments," Liu Cigui, head of the State Oceanic Administration, told a meeting on oceanic technology in Beijing.
The move has already raised concerns in India with Directorate of Naval Intelligence informing the Indian government that the contract would provide an excuse for China to operate its warships besides compiling data on the vast mineral resources in India's backyard.
Chinese released a guideline on the oceanic science and technology development between 2011 and 2015, vowing to invest more to boost the country's maritime economy. Liu said more efforts will be made to boost innovation and strive for breakthroughs in key technology in order to stimulate the development of emerging oceanic industries but did not mention the amount money China will be investing.