China suggests 'win-win' exploration of disputed seas
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - August 5, 2013 - 10:45am

MANILA, Philippines - The most immediate way to resolve the decades-long row in South China Sea is for parties to agree to a joint exploration of the disputed territory, China Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in his visit to Vietnam over the weekend.

While China continues to oppose international arbitration and insists on bilateral negotiations, Wang said the Philippines and other claimant countries should devise a scheme for mutual exploitation of resources in the potentially oil-rich territories.

"It takes time to find a final solution to the South China Sea disputes. Until then, the parties concerned should search for means to a joint exploitation on a win-win and mutually beneficial basis," he said in a meeting Saturday with Surukiat Sathirathai, chairman of the Asia Peace Reconciliation Council.

Wang said that such system of "cooperation" is something that the international community will welcome.

"Joint exploitation of mineral resources is not only for economic reasons. It will also send signals to other parts of the world that countries in the region are willing to solve their disputes in the way of cooperation," he added.

Wang, whose stop at Vietnam completed his diplomatic visits to Southeast Asian neighbors, also said that China only accepts direct "consultation and negotiation" with rival claimants including the Philippines.

The Philippines, however, opted for arbitration through an international court as its last resort in settling the issue, finding the talks with China "unsuccessful."

Related: Del Rosario at EU: 'Peaceful' efforts to end sea row 'unsuccessful'

Beijing also wants the Declaration of the Conduct of the South China Sea be further implemented, a statement which Manila has deemed non-binding.

"Both the Declaration and Conduct Code are not the solutions for disputes, but meant to commonly safeguard peace and stability in the region," Wang added, referring to the Code of Conduct in the coastal territories set to be negotiated with rival claimants starting November.

China Daily, meanwhile, quoted a Chinese scholar as saying that Wang's recent visits to ASEAN countries implies that Beijing is keen in prioritizing its relations with its neighbors over the disputes.

"Wang's visit sends a signal that China is taking every effort to resolve the South China Sea issue, so that the issue will not harm the general peace and stability in the region," Renmin University of China international affairs professor Jin Canrong said.

 Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, pointed out that there is already a mutual seismic operation signed by camps from the Philippines and China.

Jia said that the joint seismic exploration agreement in the sea between the China National Offshore Corporation and the Philippines National Oil Company is an example stamped by both governments.

"China's proposal of joint mineral exploitation shows its sincerity to resolve territorial issues, and the countries concerned should also show their sincerity," the scholar added.

ASIA PEACE RECONCILIATION COUNCIL BEIJING BOTH THE DECLARATION AND CONDUCT CODE CHINA CHINA DAILY CHINA FOREIGN MINISTER WANG YI CHINA INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES CHINA NATIONAL OFFSHORE CORPORATION AND THE PHILIPPINES NATIONAL OIL COMPANY CODE OF CONDUCT SOUTH CHINA SEA
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