The Philippines' top diplomat has pledged cooperation with Japan on tighter security, warning that China's efforts to defend its maritime claims are threatening stability in Asia.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario made the comments after meeting in Manila with his counterpart from Tokyo, which is involved in its own tense territorial dispute with China.
“We talked about the challenges that we appear to be facing in view of the assertions made by China. And we did express, as I said in the bilateral meetings, what our strategies are, and how consistent we were.”
Del Rosario said he was concerned about what he called China's “very threatening” moves in the South China Sea, including establishing a local authority to govern the disputed area and giving police permission to board and seize unauthorized foreign ships.
He said he expects the Philippines to soon acquire 10 new patrol vessels and a communications system from Japan to help boost its maritime patrolling capabilities.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said deeper ties with Manila were necessary to help shape a “peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.”
Both countries are involved in territorial disputes with China that have worsened in recent months. Japan and China both claim an uninhabited archipelago in the East China Sea, while the Philippines and China have overlapping claims to a shoal in the nearby South China Sea.
Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan also have disputes with China over maritime territory.