July 25 (EIRNS)–China and the Philippines are discussing resurrecting a program for joint exploration and development of energy resources in the South China Sea, which had been sidetracked into a bogus and destabilizing legal offensive against China by the previous Philippines government. Reuters reports that today, during a two-day visit to the Philippines, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, following a meeting with President Duterte, that he supported joint energy ventures in the South China Sea. Duterte had said that the Philippines had found a partner to develop the oil fields, and that exploration and exploitation would restart this year.
According to Reuters, Manila’s Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that the proposal for joint development began in 1986, but that the two countries had never “found wisdom to be able to push through to the next step.” In 2014, the previous Aquino government had suspended joint exploration, while awaiting a ruling in its case in The Hague. Now that the new government has bypassed the case in the World Court, and is reestablishing a working relationship with China, the plan can resume.
Wang Yi told a joint news conference with Cayetano: “In waters where there are overlapping maritime rights and interests, if one party goes for unilateral development and the other party takes the same action, that might complicate the situation at sea. That might lead to tension, and as the end result, nobody would be able to develop resources.” He also said that China and Southeast Asian countries were firming up a maritime code of conduct framework, to show the world they can handle differences.
In a not-so-veiled reference to the United States, Wang Yi said: “If there are still some non-regional forces in the region, they don’t want to see stability, and want to stir up trouble, we need to stand together and say ‘No’ to them, together.”