Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met with Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe in Camp Aguinaldo today, with the COVID-19 pandemic and issues in the South China Sea high on the agenda.
Amid renewed tension in the disputed waters, the defense chiefs discussed ways to avoid “misunderstanding” and “resolve differences amicably,” according to a statement from the Department of National Defense.
“Both agreed that peace and stability in the South China Sea should be maintained. Both also talked about the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the SCS,” it said.
Last month, China fired ballistic missiles during its naval exercises in waters off the Paracel Islands. This was followed days later by the sailing of a U.S. guided-missile destroyer near the area.
Chinese survey ships were also spotted in waters off Palawan weeks earlier.
In their meeting, Lorenzana and Wei also exchanged best practices in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DND said.
After the meeting, China dangled a CNY130-million (about P1 billion) donation of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) equipment for the Philippines.
Lorenzana and Wei signed guidelines for the implementation of the grant, which China is giving to the Armed Forces, the DND said.