On January 30, the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario hosted his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh in Manila for the inaugural meeting of the Joint Commission on Concluding a Strategic Partnership. According to a Joint Statement issued after the talks, the two ministers agreed “on the basis of amity, equality, mutual respect and cooperation… to elevate the level and intensity of bilateral exchanges between the two countries.”
The bulk of the Joint Statement focused on the South China Sea and expressed concern “over the ongoing massive land reclamation activities that pose threats to the peace and stability in the region as well as to the lives of many people across the various coastal states.” Del Rosario and Minh agreed that the “concerned Parties” should adhere to the ASEAN-China Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, conclude a Code of Conduct, exercise restraint, and resolve disputes peacefully in accord with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
It appears likely that a formal strategic partnership agreement could be reached this year. Del Rosario noted that the strategic partnership with Vietnam would be the Philippines’ third after the United States and Japan.
The Philippines and the U.S. became treaty allies in 1951. In 2011, the Philippines and Japan upgraded their bilateral ties to a strategic partnership. In late 2014, the Philippines and South Korea initiated discussions on a comprehensive strategic partnership.