Philippines approaches China with view to anti-piracy cooperation

The Philippines has approached China with a request that the latter introduce patrols of piracy-plagued international waters in its southern seas. Academic observers said that the request should be approached with an open mind, but that dispatching vessels would take time and require cooperative efforts, with patrols organized and overseen by a body established between China and other countries in the region. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech to newly-promoted Army

generals on Tuesday, according to local news publisher Philstar that “we would be glad if we had their presence”.

Li Jinming, professor of South- East Asian studies at Xiamen University, said that Duterte might not have completely understood the feasibility of Chinese patrols. “It is difficult for China to send ships there within a short time frame because the surrounding waters may involve territorial waters of some other countries,” he said, Xu Liping, senior researcher of South-East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that, although the request for patrols was “only a unilateral appeal from the Philippines now, it is not impossible for it to come to pass in the future, given China’s successful experience of escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and the need to fight piracy in the waters.”

The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have an agreement in place to patrol areas affected by piracy. Terrorist/criminal organization Abu Sayyaf has been guilty of an increasing number of piracy and kidnap-for-ransom actions.

China offered small arms and fast boats worth $14m to the Philippines to assist Duterte’s fight against terrorism and drugs in December, following Philippine President Duterte’s first state visit to China last October.