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Envoy: PH-US military pact crucial to keeping region stable

The military alliance between the United States and the Philippines remains critically significant to maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, including in the hotly contested South China Sea, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said Thursday.

Because of this, the US will continue to conduct joint military activities with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Kim said.

The United States, he added, had a serious interest in and was closely monitoring developments in the South China Sea.

In 2016, the Philippines won a favorable decision from the Permanent Court of Arbitration when it junked the “nine-dash line” claims of China over the South China Sea, but Beijing refused to recognize the arbitral ruling.

Apart from the Philippines, the other claimants of the disputed territory include Taiwan and ASEAN member-states Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

At the same forum, Kim said US concerns with the Chinese firm Huawei Technologies are very serious.

“It’s important as a friend, as a party, and as an ally to share our concerns with the Philippines and other partners with the region and beyond. You know these are very serious concerns,” Kim told reporters.

But the US envoy said that they are leaving the decision up to policymakers and private sector leaders in the country on how they will address Huawei issue.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo earlier warned the Philippine government against partnering with the Chinese tech firm amid allegations that it could be spying for the Chinese government.

Kim said that they have widely shared their information on Huawei and that the policymakers and private sector leaders in the Philippines are aware of the supposed security threat.

“Frankly, it’s not just concerns of the United States. I think many countries share those concerns,” the US envoy said.

On Wednesday, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the government would get a new imagery satellite in July to improve maritime security amid reports that Chinese clam harvesting vessels were back in Philippine-claimed areas of the South China Sea.

Topics: South China Sea , Sung Kim , Armed Forces of the Philippines , Permanent Court of Arbitration
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