The Philippines and Vietnam on Wednesday took a united stand to oppose China’s illegal actions in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea.)
President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung shared deep concerns over the “current extremely dangerous situation caused by China’s many actions that violate international law.”
Vietnam’s prime minister said China’s infringement of the two nations’ sovereignty, such as the illegal deployment of an oil rig off the coast of Vietnam, has “seriously threatened” peace, stability, maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation in the disputed sea.
“The two sides are determined to oppose China’s violations and called on countries and the international community to continue strongly condemning China,” Dung said in a joint news conference with Aquino.
He added that China should end its violations and fully observe the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Vietnam and China are now locked in a standoff in the East Sea—the part of the South China Sea within Hanoi’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone—over China’s moving a deepwater oil drilling rig there, with dozens of ships from both sides ramming each other in recent days.
Manila in early April protested Beijing’s reclamation project on Mabini Reef, believed to be preparation for the construction of an airstrip or an offshore military base.
Beijing rejected the protest outright on grounds that the reef was part of its territory.
Aquino said he and Dung exchanged views on maritime cooperation and discussed how the two nations can enhance defense capabilities and inter-operability in addressing security challenges.
According to him, the Philippines and Vietnam face common challenges as “maritime nations and as brothers in Asean.”
For that reason, continued cooperation between the two countries will enable them to intensify the protection of their maritime resources.
“I believe that continued cooperation with Vietnam, as well as with other members of Asean, in defense and security will only contribute to promoting regional stability,” Aquino said
The President also discussed with his counterpart the “institution of transparency” and the “adherence to sound macroeconomic fundamentals, which he noted have contributed to the resurgence of the Philippines economy.
In 2013, Vietnam was the 18th top trading partner of the Philippines, with total bilateral trade amounting to $1.33 billion.
“Our objective now [is]to attain two-way trade to the tune of $3 billion by 2016,” Aquino said, citing Filipino companies such as Jollibee, Liwayway and San Miguel Corp., which are already in Vietnam.
“This is indeed an important step in realizing our shared objective of equitable prosperity, and I look forward to working closely with Your Excellency in this regard,” he added.
Aside from that, Aquino said they also discussed opportunities available for tourism cooperation, such as cruise tourism development.
The Philippines participated in the Cruise Tourism Conference in Vietnam in April this year.
“I look forward to other innovative collaborations for tourism between our countries, since both our nations view this sector as an important driver for growth not only for our economies, but for Asean as a whole,” he said.