CHINA will continue joint oil and gas exploration talks with the Philippines under President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., its envoy said on Tuesday.
“We are ready to work with this administration,” Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian told a news briefing. “We hope that we will find some way out to handle the remaining differences, so that we could begin that kind of common oil and gas development.”
The Chinese envoy said the Filipino and Chinese way of settling differences is similar, citing Mr. Marcos’s remarks in his first address to Congress in July.
“We will be a good neighbor — always looking for ways to collaborate and cooperate with the end goal of mutually beneficial outcomes,” the president said at that time. “If we agree, we will cooperate and we will work together. And if we differ, let us talk some more until we develop a consensus.”
“If we cannot solve the differences, then we should try to create a good environment for us to handle the differences,” Mr. Huang said. “We should also seek to settle and manage our differences through direct, friendly consultations and dialogue.”
He said the Philippines under ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte and China had made “significant progress” in joint oil and gas exploration talks even if they failed to reach a deal.
“We have been negotiating the common development of oil and gas according to the memorandum of understanding signed between our two governments in 2018,” he said. “We have made significant progress, but we have yet to conclude it for the benefit of our people. Our cooperation in oil and gas will help meet the energy needs of our two countries.”
Mr. Huang made his remarks when asked if China was agreeable to a 60-40% sharing agreement in favor of the Philippines.
In September, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo said China was pushing a 50-50% or 51-49% division, and wanted conditions in accordance with Chinese domestic laws that were unacceptable to the Philippines.
The South China Sea, a key global shipping route, is subject to overlapping territorial claims involving China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Each year, trillions of dollars of trade flow through the sea, which is also rich in fish and gas.
The official talks did not go beyond initial discussions, which were done during the visits of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and International Department of Communist Party of China Minister Liu Jianchao, Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma. Teresita C. Daza earlier said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Huang said China “has no objection” to the Philippines developing a “normal relationship with any country in the world,” when asked about strengthened ties between the Philippines and US.
He said the relationship should not be “directed against China.”
US Ambassador to the Philippines Mary Kay L. Carlson has said the US wants to enhance joint maritime defense activities with the Philippines to keep the South China Sea safe.
“Whatever we can do, military to military or people to people, that ensures that we secure our territorial integrity and that we make our waters safe is what we’re going to do,” she said this month.
China has rejected a 2016 arbitral ruling by a United Nations-backed tribunal that voided its claim to more than 80% of the South China Sea.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration based in the Hague upheld the Philippines’ rights to its exclusive economic zone within the disputed waterway. It rejected China’s claim to most of the sea based on a 1940s nine-dash line map. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan