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Pursuing joint development can help avoid opening Pandora's box in region: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-09-26 20:07

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York City, US, Sept 20, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

In a meeting on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly meeting in New York last Thursday, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and his United States counterpart, Joe Biden, discussed the South China Sea issue and "underscored their support for freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of disputes", according to the White House.

There have also been plenty of media reports about the Philippines and the US seeking to upgrade their defense relations since the current Philippine government assumed office.

Such reports have poisoned public opinion to such a degree in regard to the international discourse about the Asia-Pacific region that an immediate "China threat" seems to be looming dangerously on the horizon in the minds of many.

There should be no doubt about Beijing's indignation over third-party provocations on Taiwan — Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi once again stressed to the UN General Assembly that the matter brooks no foreign interference, and that all attempts to split the island from China will be "crushed by the wheels of history". But peaceful reunification is still preferred to the use of force, as Wang stressed. As to the South China Sea freedom of navigation and overflight, as Beijing constantly points out, they are non-issues in the waters there, and the peaceful resolution of disputes is what it constantly advocates. "Turbulence and war can only open a Pandora's box," he pointed out.

Rather than live in fear of self-imagined security nightmares and investing in the black hole of an arms race, countries in the region would find themselves better off focusing on meeting domestic development needs.

President Marcos' show of willingness on Friday to seek compromise with China and negotiate joint exploration of maritime resources in the South China Sea, for one, is a mutually beneficial proposal that at once builds trust and delivers pragmatic benefits to both countries.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Marcos said the Philippines and China are exploring ways to reach an agreement on the joint development of oil and gas in the South China Sea to expand their energy sources. Former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte ordered a stop to the negotiations on the eve of stepping down. But Marcos said that reaching an agreement would be beneficial to both countries.

There may be many hurdles on the way ahead. Yet as long as the two governments make up their minds to pursue peace and work for the common good, there are no obstacles that can't be overcome.

President Marcos' government has presented an ambitious blueprint for domestic development as well as peace in the region and economic cooperation with China will surely be conducive to fulfilling those goals.

As Marcos said in the interview, China is the "most powerful partner" of the Philippines in the pursuit of a post-pandemic economic recovery, and strengthening Philippines-China relations is therefore in the interests of both countries and the region.

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