Philippines-Vietnam relations

Marcos: Planned PH-Vietnam maritime deal to help bring stability to South China Sea

Bea Cupin

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Marcos: Planned PH-Vietnam maritime deal to help bring stability to South China Sea

PH-VIETNAM TIES. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meets outgoing Vietnam Ambassador to the Philippines Hoang Huy Chung in Malacañang on Thursday, August 10.

President Marcos tells Vietnam Ambassador Hoang Huy Chung that the eyed bilateral agreement 'will be a very, very important part' of ties between the Philippines and Vietnam. Both countries have experienced China's aggression in the South China Sea.

MANILA, Philippines – Stronger maritime cooperation between the Philippines and Vietnam – the subject of discussions between the two countries – will help bring stability to “problems” in the South China Sea, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. told outgoing Vietnam Ambassador Hoang Huy Chung when the envoy made a farewell call in Malacañang on Thursday, August 10.

“Now that we are going to start discussions on the agreement that we have between the Philippines and Vietnam, I think it is a very, very important – it will be a very, very important part of our relationship and it will bring an element of stability to the problems that we are seeing now in the South China Sea,” Marcos told Chung.

Malacañang said in a statement that Marcos was “looking forward to signing an agreement with Vietnam in a bid to strengthen maritime cooperation in the West Philippine Sea.” Philippines calls the portion of the South China Sea under its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as the West Philippine Sea.

Chung began his tour of duty as ambassador to the Philippines in June 2020. Prior to his Manila stint, he was Vietnam’s deputy director general of the Department of Maritime Affairs from 2017 to 2019.

Marcos framed the Philippines-Vietnam ties as solid, making it easy to face “common challenges” when it comes to “territorial disputes in the South China Sea.”

“We have very respect for your thought that you are a friend to all, [enemy to none],” Malacañang quoted Chung as tell the Philippine leader, referring to the Marcos administration’s foreign affairs slogan.

Vietnam, like the Philippines, is among the claimants in the resource-rich South China Sea.

In May, Vietnam criticized both the Philippines and China in relation to the two countries’ activities in the South China Sea, accusing them of violating Vietnam’s sovereign rights. At the time, the Philippines placed buoys in its EEZ, which it said was consistent with its rights as a coastal state under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, while a Chinese research vessel entered Vietnam’s EEZ without prior notification.

Both the Philippines and Vietnam have constantly experienced China’s aggressive actions in their respective EEZs.

Marcos’ warm exchange with Chung comes days after the Chinese Coast Guard and Chinese militia vessels harassed and pointed water cannons towards Philippine Coast Guard ships and military-commissioned ships on a resupply mission to an outpost in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Marcos had earlier rebuked China’s claim that the Philippines promised to remove the its outpost in Ayungin, the World War 2-era BRP Sierra Madre. The Philippine President said that if an agreement was made, he rescinds it.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which the Philippines and Vietnam are part of, and China are set to meet from August 22 to 24 to discuss the decades-delayed Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. Experts have said that the bloc and the Asian superpower are unlikely to ever find consensus over the proposed COC, which has been under negotiation since 2002. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.