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PH, China take up SCS Code of Conduct in security cooperation talks at Aguinaldo

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By Francis Wakefield

Senior officials of the defense and military establishments of the Philippines and China held talks Friday to further bilateral defense cooperation between the two countries.

The Philippine delegation led by Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo A. David Jr. met with Admiral Jiang Guoping, assistant chief of the General Staff, Joint Staff of the Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and other senior officials in a resumption of the Annual Defense Security Talks (ADST).

Department of National Defense (DND) Spokesman Arsenio Andolong of the Philippines said the ADST is the bilateral dialogue mechanism between the Philippines and China, which was established under the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation.

Since 2005, four ADSTs have been held, alternately hosted by the Philippines and China. It was held in Beijing in 2013. This year, it was held at the Department of National Defense at Camp Aguinaldo.

Andolong said that in this year’s 5th ADST, the two sides exchange views on the current regional security situation and fleshed out cooperative plans to address security concerns faced by the Philippines and China.

They discussed terrorism and violent extremism as well as the threats of man-made and natural disasters. “The Philippines and China also agreed to increase cooperation in the area of training and education not only to share expertise and best practices, but also foster friendly relations between people,” Andolong said.

“The talks also emphasized the importance of the South China Sea for the region’s economic growth and development. Along this line, both sides expressed support for the peaceful settlement of disputes thereat through lawful, non-coercive, and transparent means,” he said.

Andolong said the Philippine side expressed optimism that the adoption of the Framework for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) in August, 2017, has brought the two countries closer to the long-sought conclusion of a binding and meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

“Both sides expressed confidence that with avenues for open and substantive dialogue, such as the ADST, the Philippines and China will be able to further cooperate and manage differences towards contributing to a peaceful, stable, and prosperous region,” he said.

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