MANILA, Philippines — Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin is in China to discuss regional security and mutual defense cooperation issues with other southeast Asian defense officials.
China is meeting with defense ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations in Beijing amidst its ongoing territorial disputes with southeast Asian nations over the South China Sea.
In a statement, the Department of National Defense said Gazmin would meet with Chinese defense minister China Wanquan at the China-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ informal meeting.
The agency said the officials would tackle regional security issues and multilateral defense cooperation with the goal of enhancing peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region.
This “is amidst an increasingly complex security environment where defense establishments are being called to address both traditional and non-traditional security issues,” the DND said.
“It is also anticipated that the development of ASEAN-China security relations will be included as one of the topics of discussion,” the agency added.
Earlier, Gazmin confirmed that he would attend the meeting in China.
The meeting is being held amidst escalating tensions between China and the Philippines over the former’s reclamation and construction activities in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines has filed an arbitration case against China over the issue, maintaining that it will adhere to the rule of law on the dispute.
Earlier this month, reports circulated that the United States military is planning to fly one of its planes near China’s reclaimed areas in the South China Sea to prove that there is freedom of navigation in the contested area. SFM
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