The Philippines and China entered a partnership in developing the energy sources in South China Sea during Chinese President Xi Jingping’s visit on November 20.
Xi vowed to work with Manila to “manage contentious issues” in the heavily disputed sea.
“China and the Philippines have a lot of common interests in the [South China Sea]. We will continue to manage contentious issues, promote maritime cooperation through friendly consultation,” Xi reading from his statement during his meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.
Xi also said that China would work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) for the conclusion of a code of conduct for all claimants in the South China Sea.
“[W]e will work alongside other Asean countries toward the conclusion of the code of conduct based on consensus within three years and contribute our share to peace and stability and to welfare in this region,” he said.
During the meeting, the two countries sealed 29 agreements including a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development.
The energy deal signed was not the joint exploration agreement widely expected to be signed during Xi’s visit.
The said oil and gas agreement contained “basic principles” and did not include the location in the South China Sea of the two countries’ cooperation.
Duterte did not mention about the details of the oil and gas development agreement, but said he and Xi discussed “mutual concerns on defense, security and maritime cooperation, law enforcement, transnational crime and strengthening of partnership in combating illegal drugs” during their meeting.
“I am pleased with the current positive momentum of the Philippines-Chinese relations,” the President was quoted in an Inquirer report, adding there was now “deepening trust and confidence” between the two countries.
He also said China’s participation in the government’s infrastructure program as well as the rehabilitation of Marawi City after it was destroyed in a battle between government forces and Islamic militants.
“With mutual respect, sincerity and adherence to the sovereign equality, I will continue to work closely with President Xi to deepen the relationship between our countries so we may together secure a peaceful and prosperous future for both our peoples and the entire region,” the President said.
The signed agreements included cooperation in trade and investment, banking and finance, infrastructure, agriculture, education and culture, and people-to-people exchanges.