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China to explore Indian Ocean, India worried

August 03, 2011 13:08 IST

China has obtained approval to explore a 10,000 sq km polymetallic sulphide ore deposit in an international seabed region in the Indian Ocean, much to the disquiet of India.

The China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association in a statement on Tuesday night said that its application for the exploration of the southwest Indian Ocean region was recently approved by the International Seabed Authority.

Following the approval, the association will sign a 15-year exploration contract with the ISA later this year. China will enjoy pre-emptive rights to develop the ore deposit in the future.

China had also obtained exclusive rights to prospect in a 75,000-square-km polymetallic nodule ore deposit in the east Pacific Ocean in 2001, the state-run Xinhua reported.

The move has already raised concerns in India. The Directorate of Naval Intelligence has reportedly expressed concerns to the government that the contract would provide an excuse for China to operate to operate its warships besides compiling data on the vast mineral resources in India's backyard.

Apparently, in preparation for this, China has stepped up its experiments with the first manned deep sea submersible in the Pacific Ocean, which touched 5,180 meters with three people aboard on Tuesday.

According to the State Oceanic Administration, the submersible named Jiaolong has conducted four dives in the Pacific Ocean since July 21.

Jiaolong is designed to reach a maximum depth of 7,000 meters expected some time next year.

It completed 17 dives in the South China Sea between May 31 and July 18 last year, reaching 3,759 meters during its deepest dive.

K J M Varma In Beijing
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