Blinken pledges to help PH secure the maritime domain

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (top) and a Philippine supply boat clash as the Philippine boat tries to reach the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote reef in the South China Sea claimed by both countries, the March 29, 2014. France Media Agency

Amid Chinese Aggression, Blinken Says: We Stand With Our Partners

MANILA — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged on Saturday that the US government would help the country secure its maritime domain amid tensions in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

During a press briefing here, Blinken warned China that any attack on Philippine assets and armed forces in the South China Sea would trigger their obligations under the mutual defense treaty.

A few hours earlier, the senior American diplomat and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. reaffirmed his attachment to the defense pact, which obliges the two parties to help each other in the event of external aggression.

“I reiterated our ironclad commitment to the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty and reaffirmed that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, government vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke the defense commitments Mutual Fund of the United States under this treaty,” Blinken said. journalists.

Apart from that, the US official said his government would help the country secure its maritime domain by partnering with Filipino fishermen and scientists to “preserve and protect the precious maritime resources of the Philippines.”

These, he said, “are threatened by illegal fishing and environmental destruction by outside actors”.

Last year, the US Embassy said the value of illegally caught fish in Philippine waters is estimated at 63 billion pesos a year, as recently reported by USAID and the Bureau of Fisheries and of aquatic resources (BFAR).

TAIWAN TENSIONS

Blinken also criticized China for its continued aggression in the Taiwan Strait, which serves as a crucial international economic lane, after a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered Beijing.

He stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, as developments there could also affect the Philippines.

“Maintaining peace and security in the Taiwan Strait is vital not only to Taiwan, but also to the Philippines and many other countries. What happens to the Taiwan Strait affects the entire region in many ways,” Blinken said.

“This [also] affects the whole world because the strait, like the South China Sea, is a critical waterway,” he added.

Malacañang and the Foreign Ministry said this week that the Philippines adheres to the “One China” principle, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory despite the island claiming to be a self-governing entity.

Press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the Philippine government was closely monitoring developments there amid growing tensions.

Tensions erupted between Taiwan, China and the United States after Pelosi’s visit to the island despite strong opposition from Beijing.

The visit also prompted China to promise “punishment”, announcing military exercises in the seas around Taiwan – some of the world’s busiest waterways.

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