Philippines bends to China on Spratlys; open to joint development

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Compiled by Miles Yu,

Manila appears to be easing its hardline stance towards Beijing and may be willing to jointly develop oil and natural gas resources in the hotly disputed Spratlys Islands in the South China Sea.

“We are amenable to the [Chinese offer of joint development] for as long as it conforms to our laws,” said Philippines Defense Minister Voltaire Gazmin. “What is ours is ours. China can be allowed to have a joint venture, but it should be based on our rules,” he told the audience at the graduation ceremony of the Philippine Military Academy on March 17.

If enacted, the policy would reverse much of the country’s previous unyielding stance on the matter. Of the many countries that dispute China’s expansive claim over the South China Sea, the Philippines and Vietnam had been two of most obstinate.

Last year, Beijing raised the prospect of war against the Philippines through its official Global Times newspaper over Manila’s defiance of China’s claim and for inviting international energy companies to develop gas and oil resources in or near the area.

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