MANILA — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the China Coast Guard have agreed to establish a communication system that will promote peace and security in the West Philippine Sea.
Both Coast Guards will create a hotline communication mechanism to ensure seamless communication among them.
China’s Ministry of Transport through its Maritime Rescue Coordinating Council has offered a donation of hotline communication equipment which would provide round-the-clock real-time communication between the two agencies using radio communications and video conferencing.
Both Coast Guards have likewise agreed to observe the Declaration of Conduct of 2002 in South China Sea including applicable international laws, maritime conventions and the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in a high-level security meeting.
Furthermore, the Chinese Coast Guard agreed to visit Philippine ports and vice versa. Both parties have also agreed to crack down on cross border maritime crimes and the transport of illegal drugs.
Both Coast Guards will also conduct security and law enforcement trainings and exercises.
“The Philippine Coast Guard and the China Coast Guard has entered a new dawn of cooperation by fostering a new era of partnership, cooperation and good neighborliness through shared destiny with the end view of promoting shared maritime interests of both countries,” the PCG said in a statement.
The development was an offshoot of maritime exercises attended by key Philippine Coast Guard officials in Zhanjiang, China from October 30 to November 2.
The Philippines and China were previously involved in a string of skirmishes in the region, including a tense standoff at the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, which led Manila to file a diplomatic protest against Beijing.
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration last year ruled in favor of the Philippines, rejecting China’s sweeping claims to the resource-rich waters. Beijing, however, has refused to recognize the ruling.
Tensions between the two countries have eased under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has adopted a friendlier stance towards China in pursuit of improved economic ties.