Manila military deals can boost ties
China said on Wednesday that military cooperation with the Philippines is an important part of bilateral ties, after Philippine media reported that there will be a meeting between officials of the two countries next week regarding a possible firearms deal.
This could lead to more deals in the future and push China-Philippines military cooperation further forward, observers said.
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Tuesday that he is scheduled to meet with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and a Chinese defense attache on Monday, and the two sides will determine which type of firearms Beijing is willing to provide to Manila, according to the Manila Bulletin.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said earlier that he had decided to accept an arms deal offered by China, without giving details.
While attending a Christmas party for the Philippine media on Monday night, the Chinese ambassador said “it is not yet a done deal” and both parties are “still exploring possibilities”, Philippine media reported.
However, Zhao said that if such a deal materializes, China could provide the Philippines with “light arms and not heavy equipment”.
He stressed that the military hardware that the Philippine government is interested in could be used in the fight against terrorism and also in the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign, which Duterte has conducted since taking office in June.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news conference in Beijing that China supports Duterte’s legal actions in cracking down on drug crimes in the Philippines.
“Military exchanges and cooperation are an important part of the China-Philippines relationship,” Geng added.