MANILA • The Philippines and Vietnam signed a strategic partnership yesterday, deepening their security ties in the face of China's increased assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.
Philippine leader Benigno Aquino and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang expressed concern over tensions in the strategic sea - which Hanoi calls the East Sea and which is home to some of the world's most important shipping lanes.
"Mr President (Aquino) and I shared our concerns over the recent developments in the East Sea, or the South China Sea, affecting trust, peace, security and stability in the region," Mr Sang said.
He added that the pact marked a "new era for cooperation" between the two countries.
Mr Aquino said the deal would "deepen our cooperation, particularly in the areas of economic, agricultural, defence and maritime engagement - areas that are truly vital to the strategic interests of both our nations".
"In terms of defence relations, we welcome the active engagement and cooperation between our respective defence and military establishments," he said.