By TERESA CEROJANO,Associated Press Writer
MANILA, Philippines – China said Thursday it is concerned that controversy over its joint study with the Philippines and Vietnam to find possible petroleum reserves in the disputed South China Sea may harm relations with Manila.
A Chinese patrol boat.
Filipino lawmakers have filed several bills in Congress calling for a probe into the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking to see if it compromised their country’s sovereignty and territorial claims to portions of the Spratly Islands.
The move follows media reports that the agreement covers Philippine territory not even claimed by China, and was allegedly signed in exchange for Chinese loans for overpriced projects.
The three-year seismic survey that ends in June 2008 is intended to detect petroleum reserves in the South China Sea. The possibility of oil and gas revenues is one reason why the remote Spratlys are under such dispute.