(UPDATE) CHINA looks forward to continued talks with the Philippine government under the administration of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on joint oil and gas exploration in the Western Philippine Sea, a ministry official said. Foreign Affairs.
At a press conference in Beijing on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “China is ready to work together with the new Philippine government to push forward negotiations on joint development. and strive to take early substantial action to deliver tangible benefits to both countries and peoples.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson made the remark on the same day as Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said that talks between the Philippines and China for joint oil exploration in the Philippine Sea Western had been interrupted on the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In his speech at the Foreign Office Foundation Day, Locsin said: “The President has spoken. I have carried out his instructions to the letter: the oil and gas talks are completely over. Nothing is wrong. is on hold; it’s all over.”
He said the two sides tried to negotiate for three years and got as far as constitutionally possible. However, another step forward would have risked a “constitutional crisis”.
“This explains the sudden setback on my part that undid three years of hard and sincere work on the part of Wang Yi and I. We had both tried to go as far as we could – without giving up the aspiration of China on his part and within constitutional limits on my part. I closed the store completely,” added Locsin.
But Wang cited a memorandum of understanding that China and the Philippines signed in November 2018 to begin negotiations “and have made significant progress therein.”
The Chinese official hinted that the oil and gas discussion will continue under the new Marcos administration unless the pact is revoked.
Responsibility of the next administration
Locsin said it is now up to the next administration to protect Philippine sovereignty “to the wire.”
“The irreducible model of what is constitutionally possible is there in black and white. Giving up any part of Philippine sovereignty is not an option,” he said.
President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had said he would assert the Philippines’ rights to the Western Philippine Sea and speak to China “in a firm voice” about the two countries’ territorial dispute in the region.
“Our sovereignty is sacred and we will not compromise it in any way,” Marcos told reporters. “We will not allow a single square millimeter of our maritime coastal rights… to be trampled upon.”
Marcos had also said he would use the 2016 arbitration award to assert the territorial rights of the Philippines.
Marcos added that he would urge not only China but also the Philippines’ Southeast Asian neighbors to reach a peaceful settlement of maritime disputes.
China ignored the arbitration award, while the Philippines under Duterte maintained its position of resolving maritime disputes through diplomatic negotiation.
The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea in its exclusive economic zone and calls it the Western Philippine Sea.
After an extensive exploration program, the Philippines discovers the Nido oil field off the island of Palawan, marking the first discovery of oil in the northwest Palawan basin.
The discovery comes four years after the government passed the Petroleum Exploration and Development Act of 1972, which provides the legal basis for the exploration and development of petroleum resources as Manila pushes for energy independence.
Philippine Cities Service Inc., the country’s first oil company, began drilling a well in the Nido oilfield and began commercial production in 1979, producing 8.8 million barrels that year.
In 2012, the International Monetary Fund noted that the Philippines’ oil industry may have “significant potential” in the South China Sea, which is adjacent to the Northwest Palawan Basin.