Philippines and China Hold 4th Defense Talks

The Philippines and China held their 4th Defense and Security Talks last April 27. Commencing in 2005 in the Philippines and
envisioned to be a regular undertaking to be hosted alternately by the Philippines and China, succeeding dialogues were held in China (2005) and the Philippines (2007). This year’s talks enabled the two sides to exchange views on the evolving regional security situation to include maritime security. 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.

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 to include exchanges of personnel as well as collaboration in addressing the effects of natural disasters and climate change. The exchange of personnel is one of the areas provided by the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation signed in 2004. 

Both the Philippines and China acknowledged that the dialogue is indicative of their respective thrusts to continue cultivating good relations notwithstanding divergence of position on certain issues. The talks are in accordance with the declaration of President Aquino and former Chinese President Hu Jintao to have 2012-2013 as the Years of Friendly Exchange for the Philippines and China. 

For the Philippine delegation led by Undersecretary of National Defense Honorio S. Azcueta, the dialogue manifests the Philippine foreign policy declaration that the West Philippine Sea, while a key issue between the Philippines and China, is not the totality of PH-China relations; hence engagement with China should be maintained. The Chinese delegation, led by General Qi Jianguo, PLA’s Deputy Chief of General Staff, acknowledged the significance of the talks in promoting relations between the two countries. 

China’s Minister of National Defense Chang Wanquan likewise acknowledged the importance of sustaining dialogue between Philippine and Chinese defense and military establishments when he met the Philippine delegation on April 28. 

Included in the activities of the Philippine delegation was a visit to China’s National Defense University (NDU) where the delegation likewise had a candid exchange of views with NDU’s faculty, where the Philippines has been sending AFP officers and has at present two (2) AFP officers.