Cayetano off to China for talks on joint exploration

Paterno Esmaquel II
Cayetano off to China for talks on joint exploration
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano says the Philippines and China 'are trying to find a legal framework' for joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano is flying to Beijing on Tuesday evening, March 20, to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discuss possible joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

The West Philippine Sea is the part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines. China, however, claims ownership of the West Philippine Sea, while Cayetano stresses that these Philippine waters remain “disputed.”

Cayetano said Wang invited him to Beijing.

“We will be discussing broad areas of collaboration and cooperation, but we also always make it a point to talk about our difference, of our dispute in the South China Sea, but we talk about it in the context of how we can improve the situation, and as we have been talking about it, we are trying to find a legal framework acceptable to the Philippines, that will pass the requirements of the Philippine Constitution, and is also acceptable to the Chinese people and Chinese leadership, where we can jointly explore areas where there is a dispute in the South China Sea,” Cayetano said. 

Cayetano said the Philippines “will talk to all the claimants” in the South China Sea, not just China.

“It makes no sense for us to just talk to one side. We have to talk to everyone,” he added.

Talks with China also involve agricultural exports, infrastructure, counterterrorism in Marawi City, and regional issues such as the Korean Peninsula crisis, Cayetano said.

He also said he will visit a group involved in smart cities.

Cayetano earlier said the Philippines is “aggressively” pursuing joint exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea.

He explained that joint exploration has a “precedent” – the 2005 Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) between the Philippines, China, and Vietnam.

The JMSU, however, was challenged before the Supreme Court (SC) in 2008. The case is pending with the SC. –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at