The five-month battle against terrorists in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, which was caused by Islamic State (IS) group trying to gain a foothold in Southeast Asia, has ended, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana declared on Monday.
Among a spate of victory reports, one detail has been noticed: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte once again praised China's role in combating the terrorists. "The rifle that killed (IS leader Isnilon) Hapilon was a sniper rifle made in China," said Duterte on Thursday last week.
On June 28, China handed 50 million yuan ($7.53 million) of military assistance to the Philippine government to help combat terrorism. Duterte received the weapons in person. Earlier this month, a second batch - 3,000 assault rifles, 3 million rounds of ammunition and 90 sniper scopes - also arrived in the Philippines. The aid sent a positive signal of practical Sino-Philippine cooperation and anti-terrorism collaboration.
Not only that, in January this year, Duterte sought China's help dispatching coast guard patrol vessels into the piracy-plagued waters of the Sulu Sea between eastern Malaysia and the southern Philippines, showing the great potential for upgrading military cooperation.
Southeast Asia, a region contiguous to China, has attracted substantial Chinese investment, construction and tourism over the years. This area was hit hard by IS expansion. As long as countries seek assistance, Beijing has no excuse not to lend a hand. Fighting terrorism is the shared responsibility of all nations.
After Marawi was liberated from extremists, Lu Kang, China's foreign ministry spokesman, said "the Chinese side sincerely hopes the people in Marawi and the Mindanao region can enjoy a peaceful and tranquil life again at an early date."
Beijing stands ready to continue providing needed support and assistance in light of the needs of the government of the Philippines, Lu said, including taking an active part in the post-war settlement and reconstruction of Marawi.
The end of the militant siege on Marawi means the beginning of reconstruction. Has the city entirely broken away from the shadow of terrorism? How to win back investor confidence? All these questions are waiting for answers. China has shown its readiness and sincerity.
This can be a starting point not only for friendlier Beijing-Manila ties but also for a closer relationship between China and Southeast Asia. More and more facts have demonstrated that cooperation between Southeast Asian countries and China is conducive to regional stability.