Philip­pines arms deal ce­ments ties

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By MOJINGXI mojingxi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s of­fer of arms and boats worth $14 mil­lion to be pro­vided free to the Philip­pines, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, is the lat­est sign that the two coun­tries are boost­ing co­op­er­a­tion fol­low­ing Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s visit to China in October, ex­perts said.

Philip­pine De­fense Min­is­ter Delfin Loren­zana said on Tues­day that Bei­jing has of­fered to pro­vide the small arms and fast boats toManila to as­sist Duterte’s fight against drugs and ter­ror­ism, Reuters re­ported.

An­other $500 mil­lion in a long-term soft loan will be avail­able for other equip­ment, the re­port said.

Loren­zana was quoted as say­ing they hope to re­ceive the Chi­nese arms by the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017.

For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said on Wed­nes­day that China un­der­stands and sup­ports the Duterte gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy of crack­ing down on drug crimes.

“The two coun­tries’ re­lated de­part­ments are cur­rently un­der­tak­ing co­op­er­a­tion in ar­eas such as in­for­ma­tion shar­ing, tech­ni­cal equip­ment, joint drug en­force­ment and drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion,” Hua told a daily news con­fer­ence, with­out con­firm­ing the me­dia re­ports. “China is will­ing to con­tinue to of­fer, within its ca­pa­bil­ity, sup­port and help for Philip­pine anti-drug ac­tiv­i­ties.”

The United States has been a long­time provider of sec­ond­hand weaponry to the Philip­pines. But Reuters re­ported that Wash­ing­ton halted the sale of 26,000 as­sault ri­fles to the Philip­pines over op­po­si­tion to as­pects of the anti-drug cam­paign ini­ti­ated by Duterte af­ter he took of­fice on June 30.

Af­ter the sale of weapons was halted by theUS, Duterte said he might turn to China and Rus­sia for arms.

Li Jin­ming, a pro­fes­sor of South­east Asian stud­ies at Xi­a­men Univer­sity, said the of­fer is the lat­est prac­ti­cal act since the over­all im­prove­ment in bi­lat­eral ties.

“It not only shows Bei­jing’s sup­port for Duterte’s an­tidrug ac­tiv­i­ties, but also its will­ing­ness to put the re­paired re­la­tion­ship on a good path,” he said.

The China-Philip­pine re­la­tion­ship hit tur­bu­lence af­ter the pre­vi­ous Philip­pine gov­ern­ment, un­der Duterte pre­de­ces­sor Benigno Aquino III, launched a uni­lat­eral ar­bi­tra­tion case against Bei­jing to chal­lenge its sovereignty over the South China Sea.

ChenQinghong, a re­searcher in South­east Asian and Philip­pine stud­ies at the Chi­naIn­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­search, said the two coun­tries have continued to ex­pand co­op­er­a­tion.

“To boost com­pre­hen­sive and ro­bust co­op­er­a­tion in var­i­ous ar­eas, in­clud­ing se­cu­rity and military af­fairs, will help to en­hance mutual trust and positive in­ter­ac­tion in the fu­ture,” he said.

China is will­ing to con­tinue to of­fer ... sup­port and help for Philip­pine anti-drug ac­tiv­i­ties.”

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