China and the Philippines are poised to bring their economic cooperation into a new era, and they have a fair chance to achieve the first ground-level implementation of the joint development of oil and natural gas in the South China Sea, Chinese analysts said on Wednesday.
The comments came after a two-day visit by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the Philippines.
On Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed willingness to make joint efforts with China to strengthen cooperation in the fields of energy and infrastructure.
Wang said that China is ready to have further discussions with the Philippines about joint development of oil and natural gas in the South China Sea.
Chinese analysts said that given the warming bilateral ties, China and the Philippines have a fair chance to achieve the first ground-level implementation of joint development of oil and natural gas in the South China Sea. Joint development, a concept that dates back decades, hasn’t yet come about for various reasons.
The oil reserve under the South China Sea is vast and significant for both countries, which both heavily depend on crude imports. According to one estimate by China National Offshore Oil Corp, the region holds some 125 billion barrels of oil and 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to media reports.
Jin Lei, an associate professor at the China University of Petroleum, told the Global Times on Wednesday that cooperation between China and the Philippines on oil and gas will be a breakthrough in exploitation of resources in the South China Sea and set an example of how to turn conflict into cooperation.
“This could be the first ground-level implementation of the principle of joint development of oil and natural gas in the South China Sea,” Jin said.
“The Philippines will get more practical benefits from joint exploitation,” Jin said.
Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, said that cooperation and joint exploitation will yield the best approach, although it would also be a difficult one.