Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Monday, October 28, said China is not threatening to go to war with the Philippines over resources in the South China Sea.
His statement came after British journalist Bill Hayton questioned his tweet saying that China does not need the Philippines’ oil and gas reserves in the contested waters.
“China doesn’t need our oil and gas. We do. And China is the only one offering to help develop it. A Filipino discovered humongous oil and gas just offshore Beijing. It’s rolling in minerals,” Locsin said in a tweet.
In response, Hayton said: “The only one? Shell and Chevron are already doing it. PRC is threatening war to prevent the Philippines developing its own resources.”
Locsin replied on Tuesday morning, October 29, pointing out that the Malampaya natural gas field, operated by Shell Philippines Exploration with partners Chevron Malampaya and Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation, is running out.
“Shell and Chevron’s Malampaya is running out. No it is not threatening war; we’re almost there,” he tweeted.
According to Locsin, China does not see a problem in conducting joint exploration with the Philippines in areas in the South China Sea.
“In undisputed areas, China sees no problem doing it explicitly under Philippine law; in disputed areas under my (memorandum of understanding) on Oil & Gas which spares either from conceding sovereign claims,” he said.
Locsin also noted in a separate tweet that the Malampaya gas field had “long antedated the Arbitral Award” that invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.
In May 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte said that Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a threat of war should the Philippines invoke the July 2016 arbitral award.
Duterte, for his part, told Xi that the West Philippine Sea “is ours and we intend to drill oil there.”
“I said it is ours and I will drill the oil. And I tell them do not do it because it is ours. But I have the arbitral ruling. But they said that if you force the issue, we will go to war,” he said.