China, PH discussing joint dev't in West PH Sea: envoy

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2017 12:46 AM

MANILA - Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua on Tuesday said the Philippines and China are in the initial stages of discussing the possibility of joint development as well as the current moratorium of the Department of Energy on exploration in the West Philippine Sea. 

Zhao said China is not in favor of unilateral development in disputed areas. He said a joint development would require a "government-to-government understanding" which would be followed by joint commercial development.
"The Chinese leader proposed the initiative for joint development in the South China Sea for nearly 40 years. Both sides are still in a stage of discussing the possibilities of having joint development. I think we are in the initial stage, nothing is finalized yet," he said.

Saying illegal drugs are the two nation's common enemy, Zhao said China has an inter-agency cooperation with the Philippines like intelligence-sharing and providing of equipment to combat drugs and crime. 

Zhao said China will not protect its nationals who have committed crimes in the Philippines. He said China does not know much about drug syndicates or rings operating in the Philippines but said it is willing to share information with the Philippines, if any. 
"China will not protect its nationals who have committed crimes in the Philippines. We need to punish in accordance with Philippine law. Likewise, if any Filipinos will commit crimes in China, including illegal drug trafficking, they will also be punished in accordance with law," Zhao said.
China, meantime, reiterated its commitment to build the Kaliwa Dam, Chico River irrigation, and north-south railway south line through Official Development Assistance. Zhao said Chinese enterprises will bid for these projects. 

He added that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will likely lead the groundbreaking in November of the two bridges in Pasig River and remote groundbreaking of the drug rehabilitation center in Mindanao that will be built using Chinese grant aid.