Malacañang is open to the holding of military drills between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) as proposed by Beijing.
China was reported to have proposed the holding of military exercises with Asean countries but these exercises should not include the United States.
Speaking to reporters in Malita, Davao Occidental on Monday, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said China’s objective in pursuing an all-Asian military drill was to have a “closer cooperation among six neighbors.”
“We understand the invitation of China. It wants closer cooperation among six neighbors and the US is not its neighbor and therefore we understand that,” Roque said.
“We have also said that we are amenable to a joint exploration in the disputed areas and we are pushing for 60-40 sharing, 60 percent accruing to Filipinos of course,” he added.
Beijing had reportedly suggested that China and the 10 members of Asean should carry out joint military exercises regularly.
However, these drills should not involve countries outside the region “unless the parties concerned are notified beforehand and express no objection.”
Beijing also suggested that China and Asean could carry out joint oil and gas exploration but again proposed that firms from countries outside the region be excluded from such activities.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
“We believe that without any disturbances from the outside, code of conduct consultations will accelerate,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
“We have made leapfrog progress in advancing Asean-China relations from quantity to quality,” he added, saying the first joint maritime exercises would be held in October.
Vietnam has offered some of the stiffest resistance to China over the maritime dispute in recent times, regularly complaining about Beijing’s activities on contested islands and in disputed waters.