South China Sea ex­plo­ration will be con­ducted in joint op­er­a­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By LI XIAOKUN lix­i­aokun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Joint ex­plo­ration in the South China Sea will help the Philip­pines solve ur­gent prob­lems and help Bei­jing set a good ex­am­ple in re­solv­ing mar­itime dis­putes in the South China Sea, ob­servers said.

The com­ments came af­ter Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte said this week that Manila and Bei­jing are work­ing on a joint oil ex­plo­ration deal which in­volves gas and oil.

For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi and Alan Peter Cayetano, the Philip­pine sec­re­tary of for­eign af­fairs, vowed on Tues­day to seek an ap­pro­pri­ate ap­proach to jointly ex­plore the South China Sea in the near fu­ture.

Cayetano said at a joint news conference af­ter meet­ing with Wang that to de­velop bilateral ties, Bei­jing and Manila have to seek joint ex­plo­ration of nat­u­ral re­sources to ben­e­fit the peo­ple of both na­tions.

He noted that lead­ers from the two coun­tries de­cided on the joint ex­plo­ration in the South China Sea in 1986, but break­throughs have yet to be achieved af­ter dis­cus­sions last­ing 31 years.

Cayetano said he be­lieved that the two coun­tries, led by Duterte and Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, have the wis­dom to work jointly on ex­plo­ration.

Wang said where there are over­laps of mar­itime rights and in­ter­ests, if one party goes for uni­lat­eral de­vel­op­ment the other party will take sim­i­lar ac­tions, pos­si­bly com­pli­cat­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

It could lead to ten­sions, he said, and re­sult in no­body be­ing able to de­velop the re­sources.

Bilateral ties have de­vel­oped sig­nif­i­cantly, Wang said, and it is nec­es­sary that the two coun­tries make de­ci­sions soon to ben­e­fit both.

Xu Lip­ing, a re­searcher of South­east Asian stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said due to lim­ited funds and tech­nol­ogy, Manila had hired Euro­pean com­pa­nies to ex­plore re­sources in the South China Sea, and the com­pa­nies took most of the prof­its.

“Now the con­tract is to ex­pire, so it is a re­al­is­tic de­ci­sion for Manila to carry out joint ex­plo­ration.”

For China, joint ex­plo­ration will lay a solid foun­da­tion of mu­tual po­lit­i­cal con­fi­dence with the Philip­pines, he said.

Zhong Feit­eng, an­other ex­pert at the academy, said joint ex­plo­ration will greatly help the Philip­pines, as oil im­ports have long been trou­bling for the coun­try.

And for China, the case will set a promis­ing ex­am­ple for fu­ture ef­forts to set­tle the South China Sea dis­pute.

Wang also met Duterte dur­ing the visit. Duterte said that “the Philip­pines at­taches great im­por­tance to China’s sta­tus and in­flu­ence in the world and is will­ing to build stronger re­la­tions with China”.

“Facts speak louder. For neigh­bors, di­a­logue is bet­ter than con­fronta­tion; co­op­er­a­tion is bet­ter than fric­tion. His­tory will show that we have made a right choice,” Wang said.

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