Philippines and China Resume Talks on Oil and Gas Explorations in Disputed Territories

One of the most recent global oil and gas industry news is the resumption of the negotiations of an oil exploration deal between the Philippines and China. Actually, the talks are part of the negotiations related to the settlement of the territorial dispute arising from China’s bid to claim the entire South China Sea; notwithstanding that some geographical areas are parts of the Philippine archipelago.

While in 2016, the international court in The Hague had handed down a ruling in favor of the Philippine government, over the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Chinese President Xi Jinping rejected the international court’s decision; whilst ordering a boycott of the proceedings. The Chinese president thereafter stated the

“China will never acknowledge any action or claim based on those rulings.”

Background Information about the Ongoing Oil and Gas Exploration Talks

When President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016, he lifted the moratorium on oil and gas exploration and drilling imposed by his predecessor, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Jr. due to the dispute with China. Two years later, President Duterte and President Xi Jinping signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formally signify cooperation between the two countries on a potential oil and gas development in the contested South China Sea territories.

Is the Online Gambling Industry of the Philippines Linked to the Oil and Gas MoU Entered with China?

The lifting of the oil and gas moratorium in the country and the signing of the MoU came about after President Duterte also approved the Philippines’ entry into the world of online gambling. The latter move later established the country as the premier location in Asia where remote gambling operators can seek licensing and regulatory supervision through the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).

In other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, which does not allow gambling in any form, Indonesian gamblers take precautions by gambling only in Judi Online Terpercaya sites that can provide them protection against unscrupulous online casino and sportsbook operators. A PAGCOR accreditation therefore opened up opportunities for many Chinese and Filipino businessmen, as well as established igaming operators, to venture into the online gambling industry in Asia.

Although Beijing, the seat of the ruling Communist Party governing China, had issued warnings about China’s ban on gambling, online gambling businesses still thrived across China’s provinces. Thanks to the Philippine government, which seemed unperturbed by the warning.

Cambodia, which had nurtured aspirations of duplicating the Philippine government’s feat in the world of online gambling, had heeded Beijing’s warnings by declaring online gambling as illegal. Cambodia’s president ordered crackdowns that prevented Chinese offshore gambling operators to deploy their businesses in Cambodia, as a way to appease the Chinese government. However, Cambodia’s retreat only fortified the Philippines’ position as the only Gambling Regulator in Asia, prompting other Chinese businessmen to set up their remote gambling business in the Philippines.

Many noticed that the only course of action taken by PAGCOR in response to Beijing’s warning was to suspend acceptance of licensing applications and to crackdown on unlicensed Chinese remote gambling operators who have established their business in the country. During the COVID-19 lockdown, PAGCOR granted 32 Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) permission to continue operating but under conditions of limited capacity and up-to-date payment of taxes.

Now that both the Philippines and China are seeking avenues for economic recovery, the talks over oil and gas explorations in the West Philippine Sea territories have resumed. In the meantime, PAGCOR’s POGOs continue to ignore China’s warnings against deploying their remote betting operations in China and in other Asian countries. That is why there is widespread belief that POGOs are being tolerated by China in connection with the pending agreements over oil and gas explorations in the Philippines.