THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the China Coast Guard (CCG) have agreed to further strengthen the two countries’ maritime cooperation amid territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
In its official website, the PCG said both sides have agreed to cooperate in the sectors of preventing and combating drug trafficking and other transnational crimes; search and rescue (SAR); environment protection and emergency response through, among other modalities; information exchange; and pragmatic empowerment activities unique for coast guard and enforcement agencies.
The agreements were made during the Second Organizational Meeting and the inaugural meeting of the Joint Coast Guard Committee (JCGC) in Subic, Zambales from February 20 to 22.
The PCG said a hotline mechanism to facilitate the communication in agreed areas was also established.
The PCG and CCG also settled to conduct bilateral exchange activities this year, which include the following: high-level visits, maritime operations and related exercises, vessel visit and capacity building.
In October 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the establishment of the JCGC on maritime cooperation between the two countries.
Under the new leadership of Duterte, Manila started to seek a warmer relationship with Beijing, which has been constrained due to the disputed territories in the South China Sea.
Based on a “nine-dash-line,” China has claimed sovereignty on almost all of the South China Sea, resulting in territorial conflicts with its neighboring countries including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.