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Home » Does Vietnam-Philippines Maritime Cooperation Offer a Template for the Region?

Does Vietnam-Philippines Maritime Cooperation Offer a Template for the Region?

by Chhem Kravann
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The recent state visit of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Hanoi underscored the deepening strategic alignment between the Philippines and Vietnam concerning maritime security and the South China Sea. 

Amid escalating tensions in the region fueled by Chinese assertiveness, both leaders solidified an agreement on coast guard cooperation and pledged to establish a bilateral code of conduct for the South China Sea. Marcos extended an invitation for Vietnam to join the multilateral naval exercise MARPOLEX in the Philippines later this year, alongside Indonesia and Japan.

This growing collaboration reflects a shared recognition of the escalating threats posed by China’s aggressive actions, including its use of area denial capabilities and hybrid warfare tactics in the South China Sea. Recent dangerous incidents around Philippine-claimed features and in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone have further underscored the urgency of enhanced maritime cooperation.

Despite historical tensions and territorial disputes, the Philippines and Vietnam have gradually converged on maritime security issues, driven by the common challenge posed by China’s expansive claims in the region. Past initiatives, such as the Philippine-Vietnam Action Plan and bilateral agreements on fishing and naval cooperation, have laid the groundwork for deeper collaboration.

President Marcos’ proposal for a code of conduct involving Malaysia and Vietnam reflects a pragmatic response to the maritime security challenges faced by both nations. While obstacles remain, including unresolved territorial disputes and differing political systems, the shared imperative of countering Chinese assertiveness is driving closer alignment between the Philippines and Vietnam.

The advancement of maritime cooperation between the two countries, despite lingering disputes, underscores the gravity of the challenges posed by China’s aggressive actions. While the path forward may be complex, the burgeoning partnership between the Philippines and Vietnam signals a shared commitment to regional stability and security in the face of growing Chinese assertiveness.

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