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Dialogue seen as key to enhance PH-China defense relations

THE Philippines and China, two countries currently embroiled in a territorial dispute, believe that the implementation of existing bilateral mechanisms and dialogue platforms will enhance the defense relations between them.

This was emphasized during a meeting between Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilianwho paid a courtesy call to Teodoro at the Department of National Defense (DND) Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Wednesday, July 5, DND Spokesman Arsenio Andolong reported on Thursday.

During the meeting, Andolong said the Philippine Defense chief emphasized the need to sustainably develop institutions through a bottom-up approach and follow through in effectively implementing existing mechanisms.

Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman director Arsenio Andolong. File Photo
Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman director Arsenio Andolong. File Photo

One particular bilateral dialogue mechanism that both countries can utilize is the Annual Defense and Security Talks (ADST) which China is set to host.

The ADST was established under the purview of the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation.

Since 2005, four ADSTs have been alternately hosted by the two countries.

The previous ADST provided both sides the opportunity to exchange views on the current regional security situation and flesh out concrete plans to cooperate in addressing security concerns mutually faced by the Philippines and China.

Specifically, discussions during past ADST underscored defense cooperation in addressing non-traditional security challenges, such as terrorism and violent extremism, as well as man-made and natural disasters.

Andolong said during their meeting, Teodoro assured Huang that the Philippines' defense capability-building efforts will always be in line with the Philippines' national interests.

He said the Defense chief likened the capability upgrade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to China's vision of a powerful nation.

“In the same breath, Secretary Teodoro underscored that a strong AFP will serve as the 'bedrock' for regional stability and resiliency in the force of external threats,” said Andolong.

In a short statement issued following his meeting with Teodoro, Ambassador Huang said they had a constructive discussion on promoting defense and military relations between China and the Philippines and maintaining peace and stability in the region.

Andolong noted that the Philippines has been a recipient of China's military aid gratis since 2006. The equipment handed over to the DND contributed to the Philippine defense establishment's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and counter-terrorism efforts.

It was former Defense officer-in-charge Delfin Lorenzana who received the first batch of military equipment, as part of the 2019 military aid gratis agreement, from China in 2022.

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