Phl, China eye closer defense ties
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and China have agreed to explore ways to enhance their defense cooperation despite their territorial row in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The two countries made the commitment during the 4th Defense and Security Talks (DST) held on April 27 in China and attended by senior security officials.
“This year’s talks enabled the two sides to exchange views on the evolving regional security situation to include maritime security,” Defense department spokesman Peter Galvez said in a statement released Monday. “The 2013 DST also provided the two sides with an opportunity to review their bilateral defense relations and explore mechanisms to further promote defense and military cooperation,” he added.
Among the areas of cooperation being considered include the exchanges of personnel and collaboration in addressing the effects of natural disasters and climate change. “The dialogue also served as a platform for the Philippines and China to share perspectives on the regional security architecture to include regional multilateral institutions and relations between regional powers such as that between the US and China,” Galvez said.
The Philippine delegation was led by Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta while China’s representatives were headed by Gen. Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army.
Azcueta said the dialogue manifests that the West Philippine Sea does not define the entire relations between China and the Philippines even if it remains a key issue.
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan cited the importance of sustaining dialogue between the two countries’ defense and military establishments. China claims virtually the entire West Philippine Sea, a view that the Philippines has described as “excessive” and “exaggerated.”
Vietnam, Malaysia Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims in the area. The Philippines has protested China’s claim before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.
China, however, insists that the row should be settled through bilateral negotiations and should not involve non-claimants
by Alexis Romero