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China, Philippines argue over planned oil search
China, Philippines exchange barbs on planned oil, gas search in waters near South China Sea
By The Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines (AP) ' Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario says the Philippines has the right to invite companies to explore for oil and gas in waters near the South China Sea, dismissing China's claim to the area.

The fresh spat between China and the Philippines erupted after Filipino energy officials said they have invited foreign companies to invest in fuel explorations in two offshore areas northwest of Palawan province that fall within the Philippines' 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing Tuesday that the offshore areas were China's and any unauthorized foreign oil and gas search there would be "illegal."

Del Rosario insisted Wednesday the Philippines has sovereignty over the two areas based on international law.

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