Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos: Chinese envoy’s Taiwan statement just ‘lost in translation’

Bea Cupin

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Marcos: Chinese envoy’s Taiwan statement just ‘lost in translation’

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., together with Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar, leads the groundbreaking of the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Housing Project in Heroes Ville in Barangay Gaya-Gaya, City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, on April 19, 2023.

Rey Baniquet/PNA

Commenting on the Chinese ambassador's recent statement, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. says, 'we were all a little surprised, but I just put it down to the difference in language'

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday, April 19, seemingly downplayed the Chinese ambassador’s recent statements advising the Philippines not to side with Taipei if it “[cares] genuinely” about Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan. 

“There must have been an element of yung… lost in translation. English is not his first language. I am very interested to know what it is that he meant. I interpreted it as him trying to say that the Philippines should not provoke or intensify the tensions because it will impact badly on the Filipinos in the… that’s how I take it,” said Marcos in a chance interview in Bulacan. 

China Ambassador Huang Xillian, speaking at the 8th Manila Forum for China-Philippines Relations on April 17, said the United States “intends to take advantage” of four new sites under the US and Philippines’ Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), allowing American troops access to key bases, including those close to Taiwan. 

A portion of the transcript of his speech published by PhilStar reads: “Many Filipino politicians and ordinary Filipino people are questioning whether opening new bases will serve the national interests of the Philippines…. Some tried to find excuse for the new EDCA sites by citing the safety of the 150,000 OFWs in Taiwan, while China is the last country that wishes to see conflict over the Strait because people on both sides are Chinese. But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures. This is to guard against external interference and all separatist activities. The Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose “Taiwan independence” rather than stoking the fire by offering the US access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs.” 

Chuckling right after he was asked to comment on Huang’s speech, Marcos said he would be “talking to the ambassador soon.” 

“I’m sure he’ll very anxious to give his own interpretation of what he was trying to say. We were all a little surprised but… I just put it down to the difference in language,” added the President. 

The Marcos administration in early 2023 announced that four new sites would be opened to American troops under EDCA, increasing to nine the Philippine military bases covered by the agreement. Marcos has said this would allow the country’s treaty allies to better assist the Philippines during calamities. The US would be allowed access to these bases, including the prepositioning of their assets, under the military agreement. 

No need to worry about EDCA sites if nobody attacks, Marcos tells China

No need to worry about EDCA sites if nobody attacks, Marcos tells China

China considers this development as adding tension in the region – over Taiwan and the South China Sea, which China claims in its entirety over other countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. 

Marcos earlier dismissed China’s qualms by saying the regional giant has nothing to worry about as long as nobody attacks the Philippines. 

China claims as its own the democratically-governed island of Taiwan. Although it adheres to the ‘One China’ policy, a US law binds it to defend Taiwan if is attacked by China. Tensions in the Taiwan Strait show no signs of simmering down, as China steps up military activities in the area. 

American Vice President Kamala Harris, during a visit to Manila, has also said the US was ready to defend the Philippines in the event of an attack in the volatile South China Sea.  – Rappler.com 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.