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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and the United States (US) on Thursday, December 28, reaffirmed both countries’ “robust… alliance and bilateral relations” amid ongoing tensions with China.
In a phone call on Thursday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken the Philippines’ “abiding interest to protect its sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, while maintaining peace and security and upholding the rules-based international order.”
“Secretary Manalo emphasized the importance of dialogue and maintaining open lines of communication with other parties in pursuit of these objectives,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller, meanwhile, said the discussion covered issues of mutual concern, including the tensions at the South China Sea.
“Secretary Blinken underscored the US’ ironclad commitments to the Philippines under our Mutual Defense Treaty,” he said in a statement.
Manalo and Blinken, he added, exchanged ideas on how to further reinforce the cooperation between the Philippines and the US, especially in the aftermath of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s visit to Washington in May 2023.
The phone call came amid heightened verbal exchanges between China and the Philippines following harassment incidents against Filipino vessels. Marcos previously said that his government “remains undeterred” in the face of continued “aggression and provocations.”
China’s Defense Ministry Spokesperson Wu Quian on Thursday said it will not turn a blind eye to repeated “provocations and harassment” by the Philippines. In a press conference, Wu said that “China is always committed to resolving differences through dialogue and consultation and making joint efforts to maintain maritime stability.”
On December 20, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Manalo in another phone call that “China-Philippines relations are at a crossroads,” and that any miscalculation would bring a resolute response, according to a Reuters report.
People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, wrote on December 25 that the Philippines continues to provoke China while relying on US support, an accusation that the Armed Forces of the Philippines denied. – with reports from Reuters/Rappler.com