In order to start new energy exploration projects in the resource-rich waterway to meet its nation’s energy needs. Philippines is working to resolve “exploration issues” in the South China Sea. This was disclosed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr in an interview with Japanese media on Saturday.
He said that tensions in the South China Sea have “increased rather than diminished” in recent months, warning that a “more assertive China” posed a “real challenge” to its Asian neighbours.
The Philippines and China have sparred for decades over sovereign rights to develop natural resources in the strategic waterway.
Marcos said according to a press release from his office as he attends a Tokyo summit of Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that very little progress have been made since the resumption of discussions about jointly exploring oil and gas resources in the South China Sea.
While emphasizing his country’s right to exploit energy reserves in the West Philippines Sea at a time the Philippines wants to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel and coal and transition to liquified natural gas, Marcos said, “We are still at a deadlock right now.”
Manila refers to the portion of the South China Sea that is within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as the West Philippine Sea. Efforts to find a legally viable way to cooperate on energy exploration have failed repeatedly due to constitutional constraint and issues of sovereignty.
In addition to the Philippines, ASEAN members Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the South China Sea disputed by China, which claims almost all of the sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce, as gathered by Reuters.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 said China’s claims had no legal basis, a ruling the United States supports but Beijing rejects.
Marcos has vowed to defend his country’s right in the South China Sea collision which Manila has described as a “serious escalation”.