China said it is prepared to revive stalled negotiations on joint oil exploration and development with the Philippines under the incoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“China stands ready to work in concert with the new Philippine government to advance negotiations on joint development and strive to take early substantive steps so as to deliver tangible benefits to both countries and peoples,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
He described the joint offshore oil and gas development as the “right way” for the two countries to move forward despite maritime differences to achieve mutual gain.
He said the memorandum of understanding on cooperation signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his state visit to the Philippines in November 2018 is the basis for both parties to “negotiate on accelerated basis arrangement to facilitate oil and gas exploration and exploitation.”
Earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. revealed the Philippines has abandoned joint oil exploration talks with China amid tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
“The President [Rodrigo Duterte] has spoken. I carried out his instructions to the letter. Oil and gas discussions are terminated completely… Three years on and we have not achieved our objective —developing oil and gas resources so critical for the Philippines, but not at the price of sovereignty. Not even a particle of it,” Locsin said.
Locsin said he “got as far as it is Constitutionally possible to go” in hammering out a deal with his Chinese counterpart as he likened the task of holding foreign intruders accountable to drawing “a blood-red line in the WPS.”
“It remains with the new administration to protect our sovereignty all the way… but now I can rest. The irreducible template of what is Constitutionally possible is there in black-and-white,” he said.
“Surrender of any portion of Philippine sovereignty is not an option.
Not for love. Not for money,” Locsin added.
Last month, Marcos Jr. said he would not allow “a single millimeter” of the country’s coastal rights to be trampled upon.
“We have a very important ruling in our favor and we will use it to continue to assert our territorial rights. It is not a claim. It is already our territorial right,” he said.
“We’re talking about China. We talk to China consistently with a firm voice…. We cannot go to war with them. That’s the last thing we need right now,” the President-elect added.
Meanwhile, the military said the Western Command has successfully rotated troops and resupplied the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal despite shadowing and radio challenges from a Chinese Coast Guard vessel.
After the resupply mission, the WESCOM submitted reports to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) on the presence of Chinese vessels in the Kalayaan Island Group.
China, the Philippines, and several other littoral states are locked in a territorial dispute over the South China Sea where Beijing claims around 80 percent of the strategic waters.
On July 12, 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled in favor of the Philippines’ petition to invalidate China’s claim of historic rights over almost the entire SCS – a decision that China refused to recognize.
Under the Duterte administration, the Department of Foreign Affairs has filed over 300 protests against unprovoked Chinese illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea.
It has also filed six protests against illegal activities by Vietnam in the Philippines’ legitimate maritime zones.
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