PH seeks to learn from Vietnam's approach to China
HANOI, Vietnam – The Philippines and Vietnam, both claimants of parts of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), both forced to confront China's aggression, have much to learn from each other.
These lessons were part of the discussion during bilateral talks between Philippines and Vietnam officials, led by President Rodrigo Duterte and President Tran Dai Quang, on Thursday, September 29 in Hanoi, Vietnam. (READ: Duterte to Vietnam's Quang: Bilateral talks with China 'necessary')
The talks happened on the second day of Duterte's official visit to Vietnam.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who participated in the talks as chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said Vietnam may have suffered from China's assertiveness in the West Philippine Sea, but Vietnam and China continue to enjoy alliances in trade and economy.
The worst point in Vietnam and China relations involved the deaths of Vietnamese soldiers in a 1988 naval battle in the Spratlys yet the two countries managed to preserve their economic, cultural, and diplomatic ties.
"If you look at the number of (Chinese) tourists, investments, exchanges in Vietnam, it's much more than the Philippines when in fact their security problem with China is also of a higher pitch, so what was discussed was, we can share the common experience," said Cayetano during a Thursday press briefing.
Vietnam and China also have 4 "hotlines" for their defense, foreign, and agriculture ministries, and one connecting the leaders of their communist parties, which are used to prevent or diffuse tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines is eyeing a "two-track" diplomatic approach towards China that would allow them to cooperate in some areas while separately handling contentious issues like the maritime dispute.
Meanwhile, Vietnam can also learn from the experience of the Philippines, the only country to have won against China in an international arbitration on claims in the West Philippine Sea. In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, rejecting China's claim over the disputed sea.
Vietnam welcomed the ruling and has said it might pursue similar legal action against China.
If Vietnam does file a case, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said, "They can certainly use the arbitral decision as a precedent in supporting their legal claims and strenghtening their legal claims."
Yasay said the historic Hague ruling is the Philippines' "contribution to the jurisprudence" on maritime law and the interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
"They would also like to learn from us but we’d like to learn from them," said Cayetano.
During the bilateral talks, Vietnamese and Philippine officials affirmed their common desire for peace and security in the region in order to provide the stability needed for their economies to grow. – Rappler.com