SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping said China and the Philippines could take a “bigger step” in the joint development of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea if they can “properly” handle their dispute over sovereignty.
Xi made the remarks on Thursday in a meeting in Beijing with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has positioned himself as a friend of Beijing but has come under growing pressure at home to push back against China’s maritime assertiveness.
Visit - Rise - Tension - Fronts - Vessels
The visit comes amid a recent rise in tension on multiple fronts, with Chinese vessels challenging energy assets and sea boundaries of Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, prompting the United States to accuse China of “coercive interference” and holding hostage $2.5 trillion of oil and gas in the region.
Duterte’s spokesman said earlier this month that he would meet Xi to discuss a 2016 arbitration ruling that invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.
Report - Thursday - Meeting - China - State
A report on Thursday’s meeting by China’s state news agency Xinhua made no mention of the ruling, which China has vociferously disputed.
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