HONG KONG — Vietnam appears to have retreated in a high-stakes maritime gambit against China, suspending a gas-drilling project that it had approved in the South China Sea but that was said to have irritated Beijing.
The drilling, by a subsidiary of the Spanish energy company Repsol, had started in June off the southern Vietnamese coast, analysts said. The offshore block where the drilling was occurring straddles the border of Vietnam’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone but is challenged by China, Vietnam’s hulking northern neighbor, which is building artificial islands in the sea for its military.
Analysts say the project’s suspension…
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