Philippines, Vietnam forging ties against China’s harassment

President Benigno Aquino III and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung had a bilateral meeting Sunday night in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The two leaders are in Malaysia with their counterparts around South-east Asia for ASEAN Summit.

The two leaders agreed to push for ASEAN adoption of a legally binding Code of Conduct in South China Sea “that will effectively implement the Declaration made by the ASEAN countries and China in the exercise of self-restraint and avoidance of escalation of disputes that will affect regional peace and stability,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

During the said bilateral meeting, Aquino and his Vietnamese counterpart compared notes on incidents of harassment that add to tension in the South China Sea, Coloma said.

They “expressed concern over the reclamation activities undertaken by China that clearly indicate violation of the DOC provision against inhabiting previously uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features,” the Palace official adds.

Philippines and Vietnam are looking forward for a meaningful observance of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year. The two countries have seen a significant progress in strategic defense dialogue which includes maritime cooperation.