Pragmatic attitude from Philippines can help resolve issues over South China Sea

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/17 22:48:39

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said recently that the country would be willing to explore the natural resources of the South China Sea with China and Vietnam. This is a pragmatic attitude that could lay the foundations for the peaceful resolution of disputes in the contested waters.

Duterte's comments came right after he returned home from the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, which he told reporters resulted in a "windfall" for the Philippines, hinting at more Chinese investment to come.

"With One Belt and One Road, we have opportunities to synergize our efforts, bring progress and prosperity, and peace and stability that our people and region deserve," Duterte said in a statement on Tuesday, according to a report by Philippine online news website Rappler.

It seems that Duterte has fully understood the essence of the Belt and Road initiative and would like to resolve conflicts between the two countries through win-win cooperation, a constructive message that should be commended.

So long as this is not one of the casual comments sometimes made by Duterte and he really is willing to collaborate with neighboring countries to reduce confrontation, such a joint exploration would offer common ground conducive to future consultation on the South China Sea issue.

Moreover, there are already precedents for such cooperation between countries in disputed waters.

For instance, in 1979, Malaysia and Thailand agreed to share the proceeds from the joint exploration of natural resources in a disputed area in the Gulf of Thailand.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that an exploration collaboration between China and the Philippines doesn't mean that their territorial dispute would be easily resolved. Such a resolution still requires great efforts from both sides in dialogue and consultation. But joint development would indicate positive attitudes from both sides toward resolving the dispute in a peaceful way, thanks in large part to their need for a peaceful geopolitical environment for the sake of economic development.

On Friday, the two countries are scheduled to hold the first meeting of the bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea issue in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's Guizhou Province. And a pragmatic approach on common development will show the world that the two countries have the wisdom and ability to properly address the issue.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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