Vietnam and the Philippines agreed on Tuesday to boost cooperation among their coastguards and to prevent untoward incidents in the South China Sea, in an announcement during a state visit by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The two Southeast Asian countries have competing claims over some parts of the South China Sea, a conduit for $3 trillion of annual ship-borne trade that China claims almost in its entirety.
The agreement in Hanoi, details of which were not disclosed, could risk angering Beijing, which has deployed its vast fleet of coastguard throughout the South China Sea to police its expansive territorial claims.
Both Hanoi and Manila have had run-ins with China’s coastguard in the past, but altercations have been frequent in the last year between vessels of China and U.S.-ally the Philippines, adding strain to deteriorating relations.
Vietnam, one of the world’s biggest rice exporters, will also have an agreement with the Philippines, a top importer of the grain, covering rice trade in the next five years, Hanoi’s trade ministry said on Tuesday.