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Friday, March 1, 2024

Carlos: We’ll be neutral on Taiwan issue

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The country will not side with either the United States or China on the issue of Taiwan, National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos said Friday, a day after Malacanang called for restraint as tensions mounted between the global giants after the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Philippines’ northern neighbor.

In a television interview, Carlos said: “We will just continue engaging with both parties, both actors, and the President (Ferdinand Marcos Jr.) has declared repeatedly that we will engage critically and constructively with both China and the US.”

“On my hand, remember that China is our neighbor, but at the same time we have continuing conflict with China in regard to the contested South China Sea, and on the other hand we have the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, so we are a defense ally of the US,” Carlos added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Manila is concerned with the “rising tensions” in the Taiwan Strait, which is just north of the country.

In a statement Thursday, the DFA reiterated the country’s adherence to the One-China policy, recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the sole Chinese government.

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“The Philippines adheres to the One-China policy. The Philippines urges restraint by all parties concerned. Diplomacy and dialogue must prevail,” it said.

In a Palace press briefing, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the Taiwan issue was not discussed in the Cabinet meeting called by the President yesterday.

“It was not mentioned in the agenda. If regarding on international relations, we’ll always be cautious. Suffice it to say, the situation is monitored extensively. We don’t have any reactions or statements regarding that,” Cruz-Angeles added.

This developed as Sen. Risa Hontiveros said China Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian “should not presume to lecture the Philippines as to how we should pursue our foreign policy objectives.”

“The Philippines is a sovereign state, following an independent foreign policy,” the opposition senator said in a statement.

“Must I also remind the Ambassador that in our pursuit of our independent foreign policy, the Philippines has every right, at any time, to review, amend, or modify our foreign policy,” Hontiveros said.

She said the Chinese envoy “shouldn’t pontificate on such policies,” especially considering “that his country stubbornly and steadfastly refuses” to recognize a decision rendered by an international arbitral court.

Hontiveros also scored China for “continuously ignoring and flouting international law” in the West Philippine Sea when it suits their interest.

As for the so-called “special relationship” between the Philippines and China, she asked: “What is this special relationship? Hegemon-Client State? Master-Servant? Bully-Victim?”

She told Huang “not to dictate what our country should do if they cannot respect our sea, territory, and sovereignty.”

Sen. Koko Pimentel also exhorted the Philippine government “in their public (official) pronouncements regarding the China-Taiwan-US issue” since this is a very sensitive issue for all the parties involved.

He said the PH position should be the following: 1. Re-state our adherence to the One China Policy. 2. Call for the lessening of tension in this part of the world.

“Let us all avoid acts which provoke other nations,” stated Pimentel.

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