Beijing: China on Saturday announced plans to expand its seabed mineral explorations in the Indian Ocean after an international authority approved its bid to mine for polymetallic sulphide ore, much to the surprise of India.
Beijing has already got approval to explore in a 10,000 sq km seabed area in southwest Indian Ocean for the ore and now it plans to invest more to expand the "depth and scope of oceanic research".
Following the approval, China's Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association is set to sign a 15-year exploration contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) later this year granting pre-emptive rights for it to develop the ore deposit in future, state run Xinhua reported.
"We will expand the depths and scope of oceanic research and improve our understanding of the ocean, with special focuses on the polar regions and deep sea environments," Liu Cigui, head of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), told a meeting on oceanic technology here.
The move has already raised concerns in India with Directorate of Naval Intelligence (DNI) informing the Indian government that the contract would provide an excuse for China to operate its warships besides compiling data on the vast mineral resources in India's backyard.
Chinese released a guideline on the oceanic science and technology development between 2011 and 2015, vowing to invest more to boost the country's maritime economy.
Liu said more efforts will be made to boost innovation and strive for breakthroughs in key technology in order to stimulate the development of emerging oceanic industries but did not mention the amount money China will be investing.
The announcement followed China's bid for exploring the international seabed region of southwest Indian Ocean for polymetallic sulphide deposit was approved by ISA, last month much to the surprise of India.
The guideline was jointly released at the meeting by the SOA, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education and the National Natural Science Foundation, state run Xinhua reported.
China also has obtained exclusive rights to prospect in a 75,000-square-km polymetallic nodule ore deposit in the east Pacific Ocean in 2001.
Apparently in preparation for its ambitious oceanic research projects, China has stepped up its experiments with first manned deep sea submersible which touched about 6000 meters in the Pacific Ocean last month with three people on board.
According to China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA), the submersible named 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.