VISITING Chinese Coast Guard chief Major Gen. Wang Zhongcai yesterday sought better cooperation between coast guard elements from China and the Philippines to avoid confrontation, especially in the disputed South China Sea.
In a meeting with his Filipino counterpart, Adm. Joel Garcia, Wang said he is in the Philippines to bolster relations between the two countries, which are among the six claimants to the contested area.
“We should always cooperate with each other and (there should be) no confrontation (between the two sides),” Wang said through an interpreter during the meeting at the Philippine Coast Guard headquarters in Manila.
“We (China Coast Guard) uphold the philosophy of peace, cooperation and harmony. We are here to make friends,” said Wang, who had earlier met with Garcia on Monday night.
Wang said he is confident the relations between the two agencies “will be deeper and better” in line with the position of Chinese President Xi Jin Ping and Philippine President Duterte.
“You cannot choose your neighbor but you can choose your friend… Asia is Asians and Asia should be governed by Asians. And also, the South China Sea should be governed by countries (near) the sea,” he added.
Garcia said the Philippines and China are “destined to be partners and friends forever.”
“As neighbors, we have to promote peace, security, stability so that both people would develop and grow together in the next centuries to come,” Garcia said, adding the two sides should not allow themselves to be divided by the dragging South China Sea dispute.
“Asian culture is unique compared to the rest of the world. We share the same thought, we share the same vision. Since we are neighbor, we should not allow the South China Sea to divide us,” said Garcia.
Garcia said the issue should be used “to bridge our two people and two countries” so that both countries “may grow together as a people and promote peace friendship and cooperation.”
He also said Philippines shares the vision of Xi about the need “to build a community with a shared vision for the future humanity because it is only through sharing of this vision – through cooperation, friendship – that our two people will be strong and in the end, Asia will be strong.”
Garcia said he discussed with Wang the adoption of mechanisms to ensure to ensure the safety of Filipino and Chinese fishermen in the South China Sea.
“It’s not right to shut the door for cooperation if we had problems in the past years or months….We are open to discuss any issues in the past months or years,” Garcia said.
“We have to come up with procedures to protect our fishermen in the South China Sea. I think they are amenable to discuss once and for all the safety of our fishermen in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea,” he added.
Wang also donated food packs from the crew of a Chinese Coast Guard ship that docked at the South Harbor on Monday for the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption, plus 600 pieces of face masks.
Meanwhile, PCG personnel rescued a crew member of a Chinese cargo vessel MV Wuzhou 8 off Corregidor Island in Cavite on Sunday.