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Manila and Hanoi move to protect maritime claims

MANILA (AsiaNews): Officials from The Philippines and Vietnam held high-level talks on August 1 in Manila to discuss the safety of navigation in the South China Sea and pledged to stand together against what was called increasing pressure from Beijing to lay claim to areas which are rich in natural resources.

The Seventh Meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between the two countries discussed initiatives in the field of security and defence, investment, the development of agriculture and maritime cooperation.

They last met in 2011 in Hanoi.

The Philippine minister for Foreign Affairs, Albert del Rosario, led his country’s delegation and his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Binh Minh, led the Vietnamese representation.

A review and update of the existing mechanism of bilateral cooperation was also on the agenda, covering the period 2011 to 2016, when the next meeting is due.

Both countries are tied to a long-standing and prolonged territorial dispute with China, which more than once has threatened to escalate into open conflict.

It has incited tensions in Vietnam, especially among nationalist movements that have taken to the streets in protest on several occasions.

Subsoil resources, such as oil and natural gas, are attracting the attention of Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, with the United States of America moving behind the scenes to protect its own interests, especially access to sea routes, as two-thirds of maritime trade passes through the disputed area.

Manila has often accused Beijing of incursions into its waters and illegal exploration. It has even appealed to the United Nations for international arbitration—to Beijing’s irritation.

China wants to address the unresolved issues through bilateral negotiations.

A point of contention for the meeting in Manila was Hanoi’s decision to carry out joint ventures and exploration with Beijing in the area.

Regional hegemony is strategically important for Beijing, because it would enable it to control the trade and natural resources in the region.


Vietnam, The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have all challenged China’s claim.

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