Another Chinese firm’s India plan hits roadblock

March 17th, 2008 - 12:34 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) Despite warming Sino-Indian ties after the Beijing visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, yet another Chinese firm has been denied entry into India on suspicion that the move may compromise the nation’s security. Liaohe Petroleum Exploration Bureau (LPEB), a Chinese seismic survey firm and a subsidiary of the country’s hydrocarbons exploration and production giant CNPC, wants to open offices in Kolkata and Chennai.

But permission from New Delhi is not forthcoming - like in numerous other cases involving Chinese companies.

“Most of the state-owned Chinese companies have links with China’s intelligence services. We cannot jeopardise our country’s strategic and security interests,” a senior official in the home ministry said on condition of anonymity.

“Since Chinese companies are now bidding for port projects in our neighbourhood, there is a chance that Liaohe Petroleum could misuse its office and give crucial oceanographic data of Indian waters to their navy,” the official added.

On an earlier occasion, the state-run Indian hydrocarbons major Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) had to cancel a $370.8-million seismic data acquisition contract that was awarded to Liaohe Petroleum. This contract pertained to blocks in the Krishna-Godavari basin, off the Andhra Pradesh coast, and the Chinese company could not secure statutory clearances for undertaking the seismic survey on time.

The government withheld clearances after the home ministry raised concerns over the security implications in allowing Chinese vessels to undertake surveys along the country’s shoreline.

In a similar development, clearance to Harbin Power Engineering Company of China for electrical and mechanical works at the 1,154-mw Kotli Bhel hydro project in Uttarakhand has been pending for around a year.

Some other Chinese companies like Dongfang Electric Corp have also faced hurdles in securing permission for participating in hydro-electric power projects in the country.

In the telecommunications sector, big Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE Technologies had either faced inordinate delays in getting nods for investing in the country, or been simply denied permission.

Earlier, the home ministry had wanted specific provisions to keep companies from the so-called “enemy countries” out of the bidding process for oil and gas assets in the country but dropped it after opposition by the external affairs ministry.

Chinese companies have often complained that the thinking in the ministries of commerce and external affairs over their entry into India has been at odds with that in the home ministry and its intelligence and security establishments.

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