Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked China to help in the fight against Muslim militants belonging to the Abu Sayyaf group by sending ships to patrol southern waters plagued by raids on commercial vessels.
Malaysia and Indonesia have already vowed to deploy naval vessels in the area to help fight the scourge.
Duterte said piracy in the Sulu Sea could rise to levels seen in Somalia eight years ago.
“We would be glad if they have their presence there … just to patrol,” Duterte said, adding that China could send coast guard vessels, not necessarily “gray” warships.
Duterte has been far more China-friendly than his predecessor since assuming power last year, despite ongoing arguments about who owns what in the South China Sea.