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Manila asserts 'economic rights' in lifting South China Sea ban

Duterte OKs drilling, raising hopes for joint exploration with Beijing

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted a six-year moratorium on oil exploration in the South China Sea.    © Reuters

MANILA -- The Philippines' decision to allow its contractors to resume drilling for energy resources in disputed areas of the South China Sea is based on the country's "economic rights," Manila's energy minister said on Friday.

Secretary Alfonso Cusi said he expects Beijing to respect Manila's "unilateral" decision and insisted the move will not affect a possible joint resource exploration by the two countries in the South China Sea, talks for which have been hampered by the pandemic.

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