Putting aside decades of enmity, Vietnam and Philippines troops came together on Wednesday in a surprising display of solidarity against China’s aggressive attempt to enforce their military and political control over islands in the disputed South China Sea.
Philippines naval officials said that a 100 troops stationed on Northeast Cay island, held by the Philippines in the South China Sea, met with a Vietnamese ship carrying 60 Vietnamese sailors. The troops played soccer, volleyball and even sang karaoke together.
“We will have a good time together. These activities are helping raise the comfort level of troops in the disputed area and will strengthen relations between our two navies,” said a Filipino officer.
PRC China’s foreign ministry denied knowledge of any activities on the island but said that China’s position was not to “disturb other”.
However, a PRC spokesperson added, “But as for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, our will and ability to defend it is there.”
Tensions are high in the region as PRC China seeks to assert its control over the potentially oil and gas rich islands. In previous weeks, PRC China has stepped up construction activity on a set of artificial islands in the disputed region and has even attempted to warn Philippine and US aircaft away from the area.