We cannot fathom the statement of Beijing’s ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian the Philippines is “stoking the fire” of regional tension by offering expanded military base access to the United States.
Huang told a recent forum: “Facts speak louder than words. Obviously, the US intends to take advantage of the new EDCA sites to interfere in the situation across the Taiwan Strait to serve its geopolitical goals, and advance its anti-China agenda at the expense of peace and development of the Philippines and the region at large.”
Psyched up, the Philippine government ridiculed the statement, saying Philippine bases will not be used as a staging point for American troops if war breaks out over Taiwan.
“The Philippines has no intention of interfering in the Taiwan issue and will not allow itself to be used by other countries to interfere,” National Security Council spokesperson and Assistant Director-General Jonathan Malaya said in a statement.
“National Security Adviser Eduardo Año has made our position clear the increased security cooperation between the Philippines and the United States is meant to develop and strengthen the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to enable it to protect and defend the territory of the Philippines and is not meant to contain or counter any nation in the region or to interfere in another nation’s affairs,” he added.
That was s direct response to Huang who said the United States was using the Philippines and taking advantage of the situation in the Taiwan Strait to expand its military presence in the region.
Malaya said the country is only concerned in modernizing and improving the defense capability of the Philippine military which had been repeatedly confronted by bullies in the West Philippine Sea.
Earlier this month, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Philippines would not allow bases being used by American troops as part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement for launching offensive attacks.
“We will not let any of our bases be used for whatever offensive action,” Mr. Marcos said in Filipino at the sidelines of the Day of Valor commemoration in Bataan.
“These are just to help the Philippines if the country needs any help.”.
EDCA, signed in 2014, underlines the strategic importance of the Philippines to its ally the United States, coming at a time of concern over China’s conduct in the South China Sea and tension over self-ruled Taiwan.
The EDCA allows US access to Philippine bases for joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and building of facilities, but it is not a permanent presence and President Marcos Jr has assured China the bases would not be used in any offensive action.
His statement came with the successful conduct of the amphibious raid in the “Balikatan” 38-23 which reinforces the Philippine Navy’s commitment in ensuring national sovereignty, security and stability.
This year’s “Balikatan” started April 11 and will end on April 28.