China, Philippines Are Into South China Sea Underway Deal
On Wednesday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a Manila-based newspaper reported the officials from the Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte's office confirmed that they were participating in several talks together with their Chinese counterparts settling to an agreement that makes both countries work together to find energy resources such as oil and natural gas in the West Philippine Sea.
An administration official, in an interview, said, "What we are looking at is a deal that will first cover exploration activities in uncontested areas." The official, who came from President's Duterte's office, spoke on the condition of anonymity because according to him, sensitive negotiations were still ongoing and are not allowed to be publicly disclosed as of the moment.
The news hits the front pages of both local and foreign media as recently elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cools relations with the United States who was the country's ally for a long time now. Duterte, on the other hand, strengthens its ties to Beijing which has been a controversial move that political critics from around the world question.
Way back in 2012, China held in its custody the Scarborough Shoal in the South China which is geodetically within Manila's EEZ after a tense deadlock between the Philippine Navy and the Chinese maritime vessels.
Sino-U.S. tensions, up to and shortly after the ruling, got worse as Beijing alleged that Washington was meddling in its affairs by showing its support for the Philippines.
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Karimata and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around 3,500,000 square kilometres (1,400,000 sq mi).
The area's importance largely results from one-third of the world's shipping sailing through its waters and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed. It includes the area containing the Spratly Islands, Dangerous Ground, and the Reed Tablemount - all disputed South China Sea claims.