MANILA, Philippines – Following recent tensions in the West Philippine Sea, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian met with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Andres Centino to discuss “peace and stability” in the region.
The courtesy call, which took place in the military’s headquarters in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, comes after the Philippine Coast Guard disclosed that a China Coast Guard used a military-grade laser against the BRP Malapasuca near Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
AFP spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar said on Thursday, February 16, that the courtesy call by Huang was an activity “that has long been scheduled.”
Huang had shared photos of the meeting on Facebook Wednesday night, February 15, saying his meeting with Centino had been “cordial and constructive.”
According to Aguilar, talks between Centino and Huang “focused on military to military exchange and cooperation that will promote peace and stability in the region.”
The meeting on Wednesday, February 15, comes just a day after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. summoned Huang to Malacañang on Tuesday, February 14, to express “serious concern over the increasing frequency and intensity of actions” by China against Filipino fishermen and the Philippine Coast Guard.
China has so far continued to deny the PCG’s account of the laser incident, saying instead that its CCG vessel used a “hand-held laser speed detector and hand-held green light pointer” to “measure the distance and speed of the Philippine vessel and signal directions to ensure navigation safety.”
The PCG earlier said that China’s actions caused “temporary blindness” lasting some 10 to 15 seconds among crew at the BRP Malapascua’s bridge, and had been accompanied by unsafe maneuvers by the CCG ship.
The BRP Malapascua had been supporting a Philippine Navy resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, where the Navy’s BRP Sierra Madre was aground as a permanent outpost.
In response to the incident, the Philippines lodged a strongly-worded diplomatic protest calling out China’s “acts of aggression” against the PCG in the West Philippine Sea.
Under the Marcos government, Manila has filed at least 75 diplomatic protests against Beijing. – Rappler.com
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