Friday, December 24, 2010

Is China courting the Philippine military?

In a roundtable meeting with the press on Wednesday, Chinese envoy to Manila, Liu Jianchao said that his country is open to carry out joint military exercises with the Philippines.
Liu said, in his residence in DasmariƱas Village in Makati, Metro Manila, that he does not see the Philippines' close alliance with the United States as a hindrance to a stronger alliance with China whose influence in the region is steadily growing.
The ambassador further stated that Sino-Philippine military drills could be held "even now".
Liu cited examples where army drills could be explored such as maritime security and rescue, drugs and human trafficking and possibly terrorism.
He said, "Why not? I mean when the confidence and trust are boosted, and we have a better understanding, confidence, and trust, we can do better."
The Chinese envoy finds no reason why the Philippines' close ties with the US be an impediment from encouraging greater military partnership with other countries like China.
"I don't see any reason for that. The Philippines is an independent country, and I think that the Philippine people and the Philippine government have a right to have sustained and strategic cooperative relations with China," said the ambassador.
Liu added that Beijing is happy that the Philippine-US relations are improving and he hopes that it will benefit peace and stability in the region.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff of the Philippines Ricardo David made a recent visit to China to sign a logistics agreement with Beijing for the PhP150 million (US$3.4 million) worth of engineering equipments for the Philippine military, which are mostly for construction like diggers, pressers and trucks.
The envoy acknowledged that China is expanding its military presence throughout the region.
Beijing would like to have more dialogues and cooperation with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines, to ensure a conflict-free, peaceful and stable region.

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