Philippines to hold oil exploration with China in Spratly Islands

De Venecia says the proposal will bring economic benefits to both countries.

South China Sea dispute: Philippines rejected China's offer of bilateral talks
An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged on-going land reclamation by China on mischief reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines Reuters

The Philippine government announced on Sunday that it would want to hold a joint oil exploration with China on the disputed sea waters of Spratly islands.

The announcement was made by Philippine special envoy to China Jose De Venecia who spoke at the Belt and Road Forum hosted by China that was participated in by heads and representatives of at least 30 countries.

Spratlys is a group of more than a hundred islets in the South China Sea adjacent to the Philippines that was reportedly to be rich in oil and natural gas resources.

The South China Sea is a disputed waterway t that is also being claimed by Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam. China's neighbour Taiwan also has rival claims of the South China Sea.

The Philippine media earlier reported that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to fly to China this month to sign a joint energy exploration deal with China.

De Venecia also said that the proposal will bring economic benefits to both countries.

During the Belt and Road opening forum, CNBC reported that China will be providing USD 100 billion worth of infrastructure and transport-related projects through the "One Belt, One Road," Strategy to strengthen China's trade links to the rest of the countries.

"China will endeavour to build a win-win business partnership with other countries participating in this Belt and Road Initiative, "China President Xi Jinping was quoted by CNBC.

Meanwhile, China last year also pledged to provide the Philippines USD 24 billion worth of infrastructure projects when Duterte visited China last year wherein he had announced he would realign himself with China and Russia.

Both World Bank and International Money Fund said that this strategy is to seek investment rewards and eventually boost international trade, investment and financial cooperation.

Aside from the strengthening economic relations between Philippines and China, both countries are also exploring at developing their military ties as they plan to hold joint naval exercise in the Southern Philippines.