Beyond the specifics of how a joint development agreement would be worked out, here is still a bitter aftertaste left from the last time China and the Philippines went down this road in the 2000s, given that once the deal began to unravel, Beijing quickly reverted back to its unilateral assertiveness at Manila's expense (See: "The Danger of China-Philippines South China Sea Joint Development"). "By acting tough against China, Britain's Ministry of Defence is trying to validate its existence and grab attention", the paper said.
The statement was issued after Chinese and Filipino diplomats met in Manila for their second summit on what they have called the "bilateral consultation mechanism in the South China Sea". Such cruises, known as freedom of navigation operations, have routinely drawn protests from Beijing.
THE Philippines and China have reaffirmed their resolve to address the South China Sea disputes through a "peaceful" negotiation and avoid acts that would worsen the territorial conflict.
"All countries in accordance with worldwide law enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea".
He signalled support for the United States approach, however, that has resulted in the country sending navy destroyers within the 12-mile marker of territorial waters. He added: "The U.S.is looking for other countries to do more".
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement through an Australian newspaper during a trip to Sydney on Tuesday. "Australia [and] Britain see China as a country of great opportunities, but we shouldn't be blind to the ambition that China has and we've got to defend our national security interests", he told the ABC. Along with building and militarizing its artificial islands, China in 2016 rejected an global tribunal's ruling that largely invalidated its claims and has steadily increased naval missions and aerial patrols in the area.
Of Beijing's increased efforts at militarising the region, Prof Tsang added: "China's assertiveness over the maritime disputes in South China Sea is part of a more general assertiveness. particularly since Xi Jinping came to power five years ago, but this did not start only after Xi came to power".
Despite the foreign ministry's relatively mild comments, the British navy's actions could cause a rift in relations and lead to economic retaliation from Beijing, according to Shi Yinhong, professor of worldwide relations at Beijing's Renmin University.
Donald Trump has been outspoken in his past criticism of China, and earlier this month nominated Admiral Harry Harris, the head of US Pacific Command, as ambassador to Australia. "If this happens, it would be really serious", Shi said. In July 2016, the Philippines won an arbitration case at a court in The Hague that voided China's claim, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's two-week old administration at that time departed from his predecessor's foreign policy and set aside the legal victory in order to fix diplomatic and economic ties with China.