South China Sea: focus on oil and gas, not maritime dispute, Beijing urges Philippines
- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says South China Sea issue ‘only partial to the entirety of Sino-Philippines relations’ after trip to Manila
- Energy cooperation is a theme of Wang’s tour of the region to strengthen relations ahead of change of government in Washington
In an interview with state media posted on the ministry’s website on Sunday, Wang highlighted China’s desire to move the focus away from maritime disputes to joint exploration of resources in the waters.
Explained: the history of China’s territorial disputes
Wang said the two countries would continue to “properly manage their disputes” and push for oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea.
Separately during Wang’s tour, China and Brunei set up a working group on energy cooperation, the ministry said on Friday, without providing details.
The Philippine government in October lifted a ban on offshore oil and gas exploration, reopening the door to joint energy development with China.
Two years ago, the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore undersea oil and gas, a way of defusing their corner of a broader regional dispute.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has promised to shelve the dispute in exchange for Beijing’s economic aid.
China and the Philippines also announced an arrangement for fast-track border crossing during the pandemic for certain personnel, and opened the Bank of China’s yuan clearing business in the Philippines.
China would continue to take part in the Philippine side’s infrastructure plans and actively promote cooperation on major projects to lay a better foundation for the Philippines’ long-term development, Wang said.