Beijing claims âconsensusâ reached on joint exploration
Reacting to the decision of President Duterte to lift the moratorium on oil and gas explorations in the region, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the two countries “have reached consensus on joint exploration of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea and set up relevant consultation and cooperation mechanisms.”
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Beijing claims ‘consensus’ reached on joint exploration
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese government said it had reached a consensus with the Philippines on the conduct of joint exploration of resources in the South China Sea.

Reacting to the decision of President Duterte to lift the moratorium on oil and gas explorations in the region, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the two countries “have reached consensus on joint exploration of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea and set up relevant consultation and cooperation mechanisms.”

“We hope the two sides will work together for new progress in the joint exploration,” he added during a press briefing in Beijing on Friday.

It was unclear if Zhao was referring to a new agreement or to the 2018 memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has yet to comment on the Chinese foreign ministry statement.

But on Twitter, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he rejected an earlier proposal of the Department of Energy (DOE) for the selective lifting of moratorium only for China.

“Only universal lifting passes DFA patriotism test embodied in MOU on oil and gas development in ‘disputed waters’ I crafted and signed with (Chinese Foreign Minister) Wang Yi. MOU is sole authority to vet any proposal,” he said.

“I warned against any premature disclosure of proposed ventures to guard against insider-trading. Why I don’t talk about ongoing MOU negotiations. Warning extends to any announcing alleged progress in negotiations including development as a way to jack up stock prices and sell out,” he added.

Locsin said a select Cabinet group composed of the DFA, Department of Energy, Department of Finance and the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is fully informed to secure their non-objection on developments.

“In non-disputed waters it is all systems go even with China. Still working on ‘undisputing’ disputed waters. Anything (that) happens outside MOU is none of my business,” Locsin added.

Last year, Philippine and Chinese officials convened the intergovernmental joint steering committee that discussed matters involving oil and gas exploration in the disputed region.

At the time, the DFA said the “committee had a candid, in-depth and friendly exchange on cooperation arrangements… and agreed to further push forward communication and coordination on oil and gas development.”

SOUTH CHINA SEA
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