Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte lifted a ban on oil exploration in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi looks forward to speeding up negotiations with Beijing on energy cooperation projects. The Philippine government also expects China to allow the Philippines “peacefully” in these waters.
After the United States announced that it would hold talks with Southeast Asian countries on the South China Sea issue, China issued a warning to Southeast Asian countries on Thursday, asking them not to cooperate with the United States on the South China Sea issue, because the United States is the “biggest threat” in the region.
On Friday, two aircraft carriers— the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz participated in a major military exercise in the waters of the South China Sea. The two aircraft carriers left for the region in early July. The exercise comes amid escalating tensions between the United States and China.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea were “completely unlawful,” and that China was attempting to control the area by “bullying.” This is the first time the US government has stated its position on the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
China warned Britain not to enter the South China Sea to sail near disputed islands, saying that it constitutes “hostile behavior,” and implied that Beijing would be forced to make a military response. The Chinese ambassador in London said that Britain “should not do this dirty job for somebody else.”
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has launched his fifth visit to China on Wednesday. In addition to the South China Sea issue, he is also believed to discuss trade, investment, and infrastructure projects with China. After meeting with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, Duterte will fly to Guangzhou with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan to watch a basketball game.