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Claim: Iran and the Philippines are forming an alliance against China.
Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video, posted on August 23 by a channel known for making false claims about the Philippines’ maritime dispute with China, has gained 31,842 views and 1,900 likes as of writing.
The video’s narrator says: “Ambassador ng Iran, dinalaw mismo ang ating bansa para magpahayag ng pakikipag-alyansa sa Pilipinas. Iran at Pilipinas, may niluluto pala para sa China.”
(Iran’s ambassador visited our country to express its desire to form an alliance with the Philippines. Looks like Iran and the Philippines are cooking up something for China.)
The video was posted following Beijing’s continuous harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea.
The bottom line: The visit of Iranian Ambassador Yousef Esmaeilzadeh focused on exploring potential areas of cooperation, such as agriculture, trade and investment, technology, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges.
There are no reports that the envoy’s visit was about forming an alliance against China over the West Philippine Sea situation.
Trade relations: Esmaeilzadeh presented his credentials to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on August 17, during which the two expressed interest in increasing trade relations.
Esmaeilzadeh said Iran is looking to foster economic partnerships with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations like the Philippines, GMA News reported. He also proposed organizing a barter agreement, with Iran sending the Philippines fertilizer and importing its tropical fruits.
For his part, Marcos said the Philippines has much to learn from its allies, and said the country is “continuing to foster new partnerships between what we have come to call non-traditional partners.”
Iran has previously expressed interest in forming stronger defense ties between the two countries, focusing on disaster management and response, counter-terrorism, and a self-reliant defense posture. There was no mention of taking direct action against China.
The Philippines and Iran established diplomatic ties on January 22, 1964. The two countries retain amicable diplomatic relations amid Manila’s alliance with the US and Tehran’s tense relations with the Western superpower, a study on Iran-Philippine foreign relations noted.
Iran-China Relations: China is currently Iran’s largest trade partner. The Middle Eastern country has also strengthened ties with Beijing since the US reimposed economic restrictions on Tehran in 2018, according to The Iran Primer.
Rappler has published several fact-checks regarding the tensions between China and the Philippines:
- FACT CHECK: No promise from Germany to defend PH against China
- FACT CHECK: No orders from Marcos to surround Chinese ships at Recto Bank
- FACT CHECK: No reports of EU ship attacking China in Ayungin Shoal
– Kyle Marcelino/Rappler.com
Kyle Marcelino is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.
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