The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday welcomed the China Coast Guard (CCG) in a ceremony to kick-off the first-ever maritime exercise between the two countries held in the Philippines.
In a statement, PCG commandant Admiral Joel Garcia said the CCG’s week-long port call, which unofficially begun on their arrival on Monday at Port Area in Manila, was the first time the two maritime security agencies had a formal meeting to discuss and enhance diplomatic relations as well as maritime security cooperation.
Garcia said the PCG’s efforts to build its relationship with the CCG was in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to develop strong diplomatic relations with its Chinese counterpart.
Following the formal arrival honors, CCG Director General, Major General Wang Zhongcai welcomed a PCG contingent led by Garcia in a cross-deck visit aboard CCG Vessel 5204.
In a short meeting aboard the vessel, Zhongcai shared that Chinese President Xi Jinping has “high regard for cooperation and sincere diplomacy with the Philippines” and that the port call initiated by the CCG in Manila was a “major initiative to achieving such goal towards peace, cooperation, and harmony between Philippines and China,” the PCG said.
Garcia thanked the CCG for its efforts to work with the Philippines and to “make the West Philippine Sea a bridge, not as a wall, for further development of the Asian region”.
During the week-long port call which will end on Friday (Jan. 17), the PCG and CCG will discuss communication protocols, search and rescue, the possibility of conducting joint exercises on maritime security, and an exchange of best practices on maritime affairs and law enforcement.
Aside from cross-deck visits inside PCG and CCG vessels, practical exercises between the two agencies will include SAR and firefighting exercises, as well as a friendly game between the two before its departure.
In December, China’s new envoy to the Philippines, Ambassador Huang Xilian, said several visits and activities focused on Manila and Beijing’s economic cooperation will mark the upcoming 45th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic relations in 2020.
The two countries, both claimants in the West Philippines Sea, have conducted regular Bilateral Consultative Mechanism meetings, with the latest held last October 2019 to help resolve the territorial dispute. (Raymond Carl Dela Cruz/PNA)