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China can’t drive wedge between PH, US — envoy

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez believes that “not in a million years” would the Philippines’ relationship with the United States sour because of China’s attempt to drive a “wedge” between them.

PH_US.jpg(From left) Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AP Photo/US Embassy in the Philippines)

Speaking to CNN Philippines, the envoy stressed the strong ties that bind the Philippines to the United States.

“Actually, that’s the whole problem with China. They are trying to put a wedge between our relationship with the United States. That’s never going to happen, not in (a) million years,” he said.

“Our relationship with the United States is very solid. I think that we have seen that happen in many many years. We had issues with them in the past, we had some differences, but end of the day magkasama pa rin tayo (we’re still together),” he added.

Romualdez also disproved China’s claim that the US, one of the Philippines’ oldest treaty ally, has no right to interfere in the West Philippine Sea issue.

He cited why the US has a role to play in what China considers a regional tension, but most of the international community sees as an upfront against peace, stability, and order in one of the world’s most important sea lane.

“Hindi naman sila nakikisali (They are not interfering). They are our allies. They are our number 1 allies. We have a mutual defense treaty with the United States. So, they are simply stating a fact that they are to protect an ally like the Philippines,” the ambassador said.

He was referring to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which mandates both countries to come to each other’s aid in case of an external attack.

This came after US President Joe Biden said that any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels, and armed forces would invoke the treaty.

Romualdez argued that the United States is “not the only country that is concerned about what’s happening in our area.”

“You have many countries. In fact, there are 17 countries that have already indicated and said publicly supporting the Philippines’ position,” he added.

Several countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and the European Union, expressed their concern over the latest collision between the China Coast Guard (CCG) and Philippine vessels in the vicinity of the Ayungin Shoal, which is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The collision also prompted the United States to stress its “ironclad” commitment to defend the Philippines, which angered Beijing who sees it as an intrusion into a regional matter.

The Philippines’ relationship with the United States had been rocky during the Duterte administration because of the former president’s friendly stance to China, but President Marcos has since adopted a more pro-western approach to the issues in the West Philippine Sea as he invoked repeatedly the 2016 arbitral victory and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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