Beijing, Manila explore joint development in S.China Sea

By Liu Lulu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/26 23:48:39

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Philippine counterpart Alan Peter Cayetano talked of joint development in the South China Sea in Manila Tuesday. "In waters where there is overlapping maritime rights and interests, if one party goes for unilateral development, the other party will take the same actions, and that might complicate the situation," Wang said, explaining that "joint exploration" is a solution to disputes.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte also talked about possible joint Beijing-Manila oil exploration in the South China Sea at the news conference after his State of the Nation Address Monday. According to the 2009-2030 Power Development Plan released by Philippine energy department, the country aims to produce 759 million barrels of oil and 2,694 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2030. Meanwhile, the South China Sea is predicted to contain crude oil reserves of 213 billion barrels, statistics from Bloomberg suggest.

The significance of oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea to Manila is thus self-evident. In the meantime, Beijing has technological and financial advantages for offshore drilling. Jointly exploiting natural resources in the region is thus a mutually beneficial solution. In addition, joint development doesn't affect and involve the respective legal systems of Beijing and Manila, and is therefore acceptable to both sides.

If it becomes reality, joint exploration will become a new cooperative framework in the South China Sea. Sino-Philippine joint development will set an example for future cooperation between Beijing and other South China Sea claimants, and will be a new model for the region to peacefully address sovereignty disputes.

Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III, by filing an arbitration case to The Hague, attempted to settle the disputes in a multilateral way. But reality proves that this only complicated the issue and jeopardized Sino-Philippine relations. Manila under Duterte has gradually realized that bilateral consultations are the only way out.

The US attempts to drive a wedge between China and ASEAN countries for its selfish strategic gains. But it will only end in vain. Manila is tilting toward Beijing and away from Washington, a trend determined by China's expanding economic influences. Wang pledged 20 million yuan ($3 million) to rehabilitate the war-torn southern Philippine city of Marawi Tuesday. China's aid is to demonstrate its sincerity to solve South China Sea disputes in a peaceful way.

Joint development is a win-win solution for China and South China Sea claimants. ASEAN countries should unite to ward off interventions by external forces.



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