20:52 GMT25 September 2020
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    A bilateral meeting slated to be held between Chinese and Vietnamese officials on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum over the weekend was scratched at the last minute, as tensions simmer in the South China Sea over a disputed oil field.

    The diplomats “already met,” an anonymous Chinese Foreign Ministry official told the Japan Times, though Vietnamese officials have not provided a reason explaining why the meeting was canceled.

    Beijing and Hanoi recently disputed an oil field located in “Block 136-03” in the South China Sea, with Beijing reportedly vowing to attack Vietnamese bases in the Spratly Islands for sending ships to the area for oil exploration. Repsol, a Spanish-owned oil firm, leased rights to the area under dispute from Hanoi and has invested $300 million making it a commercially-viable asset.

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that it had taken “practical actions” to maintain the status quo in the South China Sea. Approximately $5 trillion worth of goods transit the waterway annually.  


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