In the Philippines, Blinken vows to strengthen military ties

Manila – President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Saturday that his countries were committed to strengthening their military alliance, and that their governments would need to deal with rising tensions in Asia, which includes China. and Taiwan.

Mr. Marcos said at the start of a meeting with Mr. Blinken at Rashtrapati Bhavan that President Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan had not, in his opinion, intensified those tensions; Rather, it “shows how the intensity of the conflict has been at that level for a while, but we got used to the idea and then put it aside.”

Mr Marcos’ remarks came two days after China continued to conduct military exercises in waters near Taiwan, two days after it fired 11 ballistic missiles into the same area, five of which landed in waters that are part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The United States, Japan and other countries have issued statements condemning China’s actions and calling for a de-escalation of tensions. Mr Marcos’ words also supported the claim of Mr Blinken and other US officials that Pelosi’s visit was in line with US policy on Taiwan, not a change in the status quo.

Mr. Marcos also spoke of building a mutual defense arrangement between the United States and the Philippines. The two countries are treaty allies, and the US military has long maintained a presence in the Philippines. US officials are discussing greater access to military bases in the country, more exercises between the two armies and making their defense systems more interoperable – collaborating with allies and partners to counterbalance China It is part of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at increasing the

Mr Marcos spoke about the need to “develop that relationship to cope with all the changes that we are seeing,” adding that “the mutual defense treaty is in constant development.”

Mr. Blinken agreed. “The alliance is strong,” he said, “and, I believe, could be even stronger.”

Mr. Marcos was sworn in at the end of June after being elected the 17th President of the Philippines in a landslide victory. He is the son and namesake of a former dictator who fled to Hawaii with his family in 1986, angered by the father’s brazen corruption after a peaceful uprising by civilians. The elder Marcos died in Hawaii in 1989.

The question of China’s assertiveness in the region as well as treating it as an important economic partner was raised during Mr Blinken’s meeting with Philippine officials on Saturday, as well as in his discussions with others. This question also arose. Asian dignitaries at a regional summit in Cambodia this week.

After the Philippine Foreign Minister Mr. Blinken and Enrique A. Manalo met by video, Mr. Manalo said in a press conference in response to a question that the two countries could explore the possibility of joint naval patrols in the Pacific.

Mr Manalo spoke with Mr Blinken via video and virtually attended the news conference as he tested positive for coronavirus.

Mr Blinken told reporters that in his discussions, he had reaffirmed the United States’ “ironclad” commitment to defend the Philippines and said that any armed attack on the Philippine military would trigger the pledges in their mutual defense treaty.

He also condemned illegal fishing and environmental destruction in Asian waters by “external actors”. Together, those comments were a clear reference to China’s actions. For years, countries in the region have complained of illegal fishing by Chinese boats, which are believed to operate across seas with the approval of China’s navy.

Despite competing claims from Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, and Washington’s insistence that all nations maintain freedom of navigation, the Chinese government has made extensive claims for territorial control of water and land features in the South China Sea.

Ships from China and the Philippines clashed on the Scarborough Shoal, and an international court in The Hague ruled in 2016 that the shoal was sovereign territory of the Philippines, and that China could not claim the entire South China Sea. China continues to send ships to the area and claims control.

Mr. Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, sought to adopt more conciliatory policies towards China, including withdrawing from strong territorial claims on the South China Sea. But Mr. Marcos resolved to maintain The decision of the International Court of Justice – a decision that will almost certainly bring his government into conflict with China.

Mr Duterte, who held the position for six years, at one point went on to end an important military agreement between the United States and the Philippines. He and other actions of Mr Duterte, who were widely criticized for human rights abuses and authoritarian practices, strained relations between Manila and Washington.

But last year, Mr. Duterte Visiting Forces Agreement ratified Among the countries that the Philippine military strongly supports. The agreement sets out the conditions for the rotation of US troops through the Philippines for drills and drills.

In a press conference with Manalo, Blinken criticized China for its decision to break eight areas of cooperation and dialogue with the United States, including military-to-military talks and climate change, over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Friday. Of. Conversation.

“Suspending climate cooperation does not punish the United States; it punishes the world, especially in the developing world,” he said. “We must not hold matters of global concern hostage because of differences between our two countries. should.”

Mr Blinken said he warned Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi against continued aggressive action on Ms Pelosi’s visit at a meeting of foreign ministers on Friday morning at the summit in Cambodia. Hours later, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced the suspension of areas of cooperation.

“I think it’s arguably even more important to keep the conversation going when we are in times of heightened tension than we are now,” Mr Blinken said at a news conference in Manila.

After the news conference, Mr Blinken visited a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Manila Zoo and saw a young boy and a young girl getting vaccinated. Kneeling down, he told the boy that he himself had shot four. He later talked about the need for nations to work together to contain the coronavirus pandemic, and how he fed the fruit to a Sri Lankan elephant before leaving the zoo.

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