Duterte open to military drills with China in Sulu Sea

President Duterte is open to holding joint military drills with China as the administration seeks closer ties with Beijing despite conflicting maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte’s statement came a week before the start of joint exercises between the Philippines and the United States, which have been scaled down after the President rejected the holding of war games with American troops.
The Balikatan exercises from May 8 to 16 would focus on humanitarian drills, officials said.
Duterte said the visit of the three Chinese vessels in Davao City was part of “confidence-building” between the Philippines and China.
Guided missile destroyer Chang Chun, guided missile frigate Jin Zhou and replenishment ship Chao Hu arrived in Sasa Wharf last April 30 for a port call that came hours after the closing of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
Duterte described Chang Chun as “very impressive,” “clean” and “carpeted.”
The President also defended his plan to repair facilities in Pag-asa, the second largest island in the disputed Spratlys chain controlled by the Philippines.
Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said the Philippine government’s plan to improve the facilities in Pag-asa is “illegal.”
The government has allotted around P1.6 billion for the development of Pag-asa – including the construction of a beaching ramp, fish port, radio station, ice plant, water desalination facility, sewage facility and houses for soldiers.

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