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GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Defense and political analysts here expressed deep concern about the escalating tension in the Taiwan Strait as China continued with its live-fire military exercises that were supposed to end on Sunday, August 7.
They said any position to be taken on the issue by the Marcos administration must be with keen diplomacy given the Philippines’ defense treaty with the United States.
It may drag and involve the country into the conflict, they told reporters invited to an informal a gathering of a group that included academics, lawyers, and a former military chief.
Political analyst Jovanie Camacho Espesor of the Mindanao State University in General Santos said on Monday, August 8, that the country’s new leadership would need to be cautious and strategic, and must take into account the welfare of the thousands of Filipinos working and residing in China and Taiwan.
He said the recent visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan was seen by China as a violation of its sovereignty because it considers Taiwan part of its territory.
Pelosi’s Taiwan visit infuriated China, which immediately launched intensified live-fire military drills that raised fears of an armed confrontation.
The Marcos administration, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), has repeatedly announced that the Philippines remains committed to the One China policy even as it called for restraint by all parties concerned.
Former Armed Forces chief retired General Alexander Yano said the Philippine government should already have contingency plans in the event an armed conflict breaks out.
“The safety of more than a hundred thousand Filipinos there, is, of course, the primary concern, and measures for their repatriation must be in place,” Yano said.
He said the level of Philippine involvement in case of an armed conflict “should be managed.”
Yano noted that the country has a defense pact with the US, which means that “an armed attack on the US, including on its military personnel and assets, in the Pacific will, of course, trigger Philippine obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty.”
Yano, however, pointed out that the treaty should not be understood as obligating the Philippines to be involved in every conflict entered by the US.
Yano said the US and China need to be responsible as they pursue their strategic goals concerning Taiwan.
“The US advised that it adheres to the One China policy and does not want to see a crisis in Taiwan. I am hopeful the two countries will not permit that recent events will lead to a crisis or worse, an armed conflict,” Yano said.
Lawyer Ira Paulo Pozon, the founder of management advisory firm Caucus Incorporated, said the US has applied the One China Policy since the 1970s, and its relations with Taiwan are governed by law, specifically the Taiwan Relations Act.
Pozon said Pelosi’s visit “undoubtedly caused increased tensions” and an escalation of military and economic posturing from both the US and China. – Rappler.com