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Dec 03, 2019 / 16:28

Vietnam, Philippines boost cooperation in maritime space

Hanoi and Manila have been tightening maritime cooperation in the face of shared challenges which are largely caused by Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

Navies of Vietnam and the Philippine held the latest round of staff-to-staff talks last week as part of efforts to continue collaboration in maritime space amid wider domestic and regional developments.

 Representatives of the two navies at the 6th iteration of Staff-to-Staff Talks in Haiphong, Vietnam late November. Photo: Baohaiquanvietnam

The 6th iteration of Staff-to-Staff Talks (STST) between the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) co-chaired by PN Chief-of-Naval Staff Rey T. Dela Cruz and VPN Deputy Chief-of-Staff Hoang Quang Ha took place at VPN headquarters in Vietnam’s Haiphong city on November 26.

The event provided an avenue for them to discuss existing relations and to initiate engagements including visits, exchanges, and port calls, local media reported.

Both sides discussed topics of common interest, including maritime security challenges and best practices in handling maritime incidents.

They explored areas of future collaboration, including a continuing exchange of education and training offers, high-level visits, port calls, a possible holding of military training activities, and various multilateral naval engagements next year, Prashanth Parameswaran said on The Diplomat, quoting PN public affairs office chief Maria Christina Roxas.

The next STST is expected to be hosted in the Philippines in 2020.

 Philippine Navy ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) visits Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Sept 7-9, 2019. Photo: Vietnamplus

As both countries gear up for next year, which will see an increased focus on the maritime domain in Vietnam and the Philippines, it will be important to watch how these developments fit into their ongoing engagements, Prashanth Parameswaran said.

Vietnam and the Philippines have been attempting to strengthen their maritime collaboration as part of their broader relationship over the past few years in the face of shared challenges such as China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea.

In spite of some challenges along the way, both sides have been developing a range of mechanisms to do so over the past few years, including dialogues, hotlines, and working groups.

The year 2020 will put the focus on maritime issues within both countries’ foreign policies. Vietnam will be holding the annually rotating ASEAN chair in 2020 – which will include a series of maritime-related meetings as well including the ASEAN Navy Chiefs Meeting – while the Philippines will be hosting the Western Pacific Naval Symposium and the International Fleet Review.

On September 7-9, Philippine Navy ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) conducted a port visit to Vietnam’s biggest metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City. This is the third visit to Vietnam paid by Filipino warships.