Vietnam, Philippines look to bolster ties amid China threat

Thanh Nien News

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Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario (L) poses for a photo with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi July 2, 2014. Photo credit: Reuters Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario (L) poses for a photo with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi July 2, 2014. Photo credit: Reuters

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Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario have ended a two-day visit to Vietnam, where he had talks with Vietnamese leaders about rising territorial tensions with China.
Del Rosario arrived in Vietnam Tuesday and met with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister  Pham Binh Minh.
Del Rosario and Minh exchanged views on the rising tension in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, and discussed the urgent need to address the escalating challenges through peaceful means and in accordance with international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, The Philippine Star newspaper reported.
Their meeting was held amid rising tensions in the East Sea after China illegally deployed a giant oil rig deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in early May.
"The visit was a step further toward boosting bilateral ties after Prime Minster Nguyen Tan Dung called on the Philippines last May," Le Hai Binh, Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesman, said at a press briefing Thursday.
Late last month, China unveiled a new official map that gave greater play to its claims over the South China Sea, Reuters reported.
The map clearly depicted waters, islets and reefs as sovereign Chinese territory.
Previous maps published by the government set aside China's claims to most of the South China Sea  in an inset box (normally included in a bottom corner of the map) to enable the rest of the country to fit on the map, according to Reuters.
The new map dispensed with the box and depicts continental China and all of its self-declared maritime border which hugs the continental coasts of Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Both Vietnam and the Philippines strongly condemned China’s new map. 
Analysts say the growing ties between Vietnam and the Philippines is a partnership between two countries that have a state that threatens them both.
"It is not a true defensive alliance.  There is no legal obligation for either party to pick up arms if the other is attacked," Zachary Abuza, a Washington-based analyst, told Thanh Nien News.
"Even if it was a true alliance, the Philippines brings zero military capabilities to the table," he said.
"The folks in Beijing do pay attention to these things.  But are they scared? No." 


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