Shelving differences can realize mutual benefits

The Philippines is open to new talks with China on oil and gas exploration, the Southeast Asian nation's top diplomat said.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s government is ready to resume discussions, but any deal will have to comply with Philippine laws, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo told lawmakers during his agency's budget hearing on Wednesday.

As China is always open to the talks, Manalo's statement represents a good sign that the negotiations that were suspended in June may resume.

On Nov 20, 2018, China and the Philippines signed an inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Oil and Gas Development, witnessed by the leaders of the two sides.

Then Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte urged the country to continue to follow the agreements his administration had reached with China on joint exploration of the South China Sea. Which should not fall on deaf ears of those that are still suspicious of the purpose of the collaboration.

As a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said, the joint development of offshore oil and gas between China and the Philippines is the right way for the two countries to properly handle their maritime differences and achieve mutual benefit without affecting their respective positions on maritime issues.

Marcos Jr. told visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during their meeting in Manila on July 6 that the South China Sea issue is not the mainstream of Philippines-China relations and should not limit or hinder bilateral cooperation. And the Philippines is willing to have candid exchanges with China and find an amicable solution to their territorial dispute.

This is obviously the right way for the two countries to get along with each other, achieve more results in their cooperation and bring more benefits to the two peoples.

The two nations should not allow specific differences to define their relations or allow any external power to interfere with their normal cooperation. China is always ready to work with the Philippines to advance negotiations on joint development and strive for early and substantive steps to bring real benefits to the two countries and the two peoples.

The two sides should step up dialogue and communication, properly handle sensitive issues, make maritime cooperation a key plank of their exchanges and their handling of maritime affairs, and make the "three good relations"-good neighbors, good relatives and good partners-a new consensus of the two peoples.