The presidents of China and the Philippines agreed to resume talks on oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea. They will also discuss maritime differences amicably after meeting in Beijing on Jan 4., a move that potentially paves the way for easing recent tensions.
“China is willing to properly handle maritime issues with the Philippines side through friendly consultation, and restart negotiations on oil and gas exploration,” China Central Television quoted President Xi Jinping as saying.
President Marcos of the Philippines' visit comes amid renewed friction between the nations over territorial claims in the South China Sea. Bloomberg News reported in December that China is building up several unoccupied land features, prompting the Chinese Foreign Ministry to say, “the relevant report is purely made out of thin air.”
The Philippines later ordered an increased military presence in the contested waters and urged China to “refrain from acts that will exacerbate tensions” in the area.
Marcos’s predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, ended discussions in June with Beijing on oil and gas exploration in the disputed sea. Then-foreign affairs chief Teodoro Locsin said discussions had gone as far as, “it is constitutionally possible to go.”
China and the Philippines signed 14 deals during Marcos’s visit, including loan agreements for three bridge projects. The trip yielded $22.8 billion in investment pledges from Chinese companies, including in renewable energy, according to Marcos’s communications office.
Shares of Philippine oil driller PXP Energy Corp., which has service contracts in the South China Sea, slumped 12.5% Jan. 5 after the announcement on the possible revival of energy talks between Manila and Beijing. That drop reversed Jan. 3.’s 12% gain.