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India piqued over China move to explore Indian Ocean

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

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 last night said that its application for the exploration of the southwest Indian Ocean region was recently approved by the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

Following the approval, the association will sign a 15-year exploration contract with the ISA later this year, adding that 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, state-run Xinhua reported.

The move has already raised concerns in India with reports stating that Directorate of Naval Intelligence (DNI) has expressed concern to the Indian 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 first manned deep sea submersible in the Pacific ocean which currently touched 5,180 meters with three people aboard yesterday.

According to State Oceanic Administration (SOA), 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.

China is the fifth country to send a man 3,500 meters below sea level, following the United States, France, Russia and Japan.

Meanwhile, in another bid to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean region, China has made a "big donation" to the eighth edition of the Indian Ocean Islands Games that will kick off in Seychelles on August 4.

First Published: Wed, August 03 2011. 12:15 IST