The 10-story-high platform, known as Haiyang Shiyou 982, has been transported to the northeastern port city of Dailan, according to Chinese media reports. The exact whereabouts of the platform was not revealed, but reports indicated that it was situated about a one-hour helicopter ride from Sanya in southern China.
The rig will enable the Chinese to drill for oil up to 9,000 metres deep.
According to experts at the US Energy Information Agency, there are around 11 billion barrels’ worth of oil under the South China Sea along with 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines all lay claim to parts of the 3.5 million-square-kilometre South China Sea and are eager to gain their fair share of the spoils.
This competition for resources has led to increasing tensions with China, which claims that 90 percent of the waterway is under its sovereignty.
South China Sea: Beijing at risk of infuriating neighbour (Image: GETTY)
South China Sea: Beijing has had several issues with its neighbours (Image: GETTY)
Chinese actions in the region have particularly riled Vietnam.
The two countries share a history of conflict over energy resources, with China’s deployment in 2014 of its Haiyang Shiyou 981 platform sparking off deadly anti-China rioting in Vietnam.
Earlier this year, Vietnam forced a Chinese survey vessel to leave the Vanguard Bank in the South China Sea, where it is currently exploring for oil beneath the seabed.
Vietnam often works with Spanish and Indian companies on oil exploration contracts.
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South China Sea: Beijing has looked to increase its territory (Image: GETTY)
Experts believe that China resents this foreign interference and tries to pressure Vietnam to stop its joint ventures.
Yup Sun from the Stimson Centre think tank in Washington and an expert on East Asian affairs said: “I think (the new platform) is probably not to consolidate the Chinese sovereignty, but it’s to undermine the effort or the attempt of Vietnam to pursue joint exploration with other