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article imageTaiwan protests Phl oil exploration in disputed Spratly islands

By Leo Reyes     Mar 13, 2012 in Politics
Taiwan is protesting the plan of the Philippines to invite foreign investors to participate in the exploration of oil and gas in the area near the Reed Bank in the West Philippine Sea.
The Reed Bank which is known as Recto Bank in the Philippines, is reported to be one of the disputed territories in the Spratly islands being claimed by China and six other countries including Taiwan.
The Spratly island group is made up of small islets, shoals and atolls situated in one of the most important international sea lanes. The island's underground is believed to contain huge amount of oil, gas and other mineral deposits.
Earlier China also demanded the Philippines cease to conduct the planned exploration, saying the the areas are under Chinese jurisdiction.
China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, in reaction to the Philippine oil exploration plan, said the area is under China's jurisdiction based on their claim.
"It is unlawful for any country or company to explore oil and gas in sea areas under Chinese jurisdiction without the permission of the Chinese government," Hong said., pointing the Philippines as said to be illegally inviting investors to explore its oils in the Palawan Province.
The Philippines and Taiwan has no diplomatic relations and officials of the Department of Energy in the Philippines declined to comment on Taiwan's protest in deference to the country's One China Policy.
But Philippine Secretary of Energy Jose Almendras said the Philippines has proceeded to invite foreign investors in the planned exploration and would start awarding contracts starting next month.
“It is up to the [Foreign Affairs Department] to discuss this and that. The [Energy Department] has no comment on these things. As agreed, [Foreign Affairs] takes the lead in all the diplomatic issues.
“We offered 15 [service contracts] which the Philippines believes are within its territorial claims.” the energy secretary said.
Taiwan is reportedly maintaining a 130-strong garrison in one of the biggest islands in the Spratly while its Security Chief has called for an increased presence in the area in reaction to the increasing number of military forces of claimant nations in the disputed territories.
More about spratley islands, Oil exploration, west philippine sea, South china sea, disputed territories
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