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Spratlys > News > English News > March 2005

Category: @News  @China

Nothing wrong with RP-China deal on Spratlys--Palace
Posted 06:52pm (Mla time) Mar 03, 2005
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, Joel Francis Guinto
INQ7 Interactive, Inc., Philippines

MALACAÑANG said it did not see anything wrong with the government’s decision to work with China in exploring oil deposits in the South China Sea.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the agreement was consistent with the foreign policy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Bunye said the new accord between the Philippines and China would not affect the country’s existing strong ties with the United States.

"It’s not a wrong signal, because it is part of the (President’s) foreign policy. We believe that these three nations -- the United States, China, and Japan -- will play a determining role in the economy and security of the region," he said in a news briefing. "I believe China will be a very good neighbor."

Bunye also clarified that the agreement did not violate the 2002 Code of Conduct signed by countries wholly or partly claiming the oil-rich Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

He said the President authorized the trip of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo in her China visit last year, stating that the joint exploration of the Spratlys would be pursued based on the agreement among the claimant countries.

"On the contrary, this took into consideration the Declaration of Conduct of the parties in the South China Sea. This is just a seismic research agreement," Bunye said.

China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim in whole or in part the oil-rich Spratly chain of islands and atolls in the South China Sea. All the claimants, except Brunei, have troops stationed in the area.

Meanwhile, the military said it would remain "vigilant" in its watch over the Spratlys.

"The vigilance is always there… Just because we strike up a relationship with any country doesn't mean we have to put our guard down," Brigadier General Jose Angel Honrado told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

China had pledged 1.2 million dollars for the procurement of equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Honrado said there was "no conflict" between the country's dealings with China and its close relationship with the United States.

"I don't think there is a reason for other countries to be slighted," Honrado said.