The Manila Times


Front Page

PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet in Malacañang today, August 6, and the growing tension between the US and China over Taiwan is expected to be one of the major topics they will discuss. Press Secretary Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles said on Friday there was no “published agenda” yet for the meeting, but the US embassy in Manila said Blinken’s meeting with Marcos will cover “bilateral efforts” to strengthen the two nations’ alliance. Cruz-Angeles told reporters that the simmering tension between the US and China was not taken up during Friday’s Cabinet meeting led by Marcos. She said the government was being “careful” when it comes to commenting on international issues. A visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan earlier this week has infuriated Beijing, which considers the visit as a violation of the One-China policy. China has refused to recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan, insisting that the island is one of its provinces. To show its displeasure, Beijing ordered Chinese warplanes to fly inside Taiwan’s air defense zone and Chinese military vessels to hold live-fire drills in the seas around the island. Asked if the government has a contingency plan to repatriate the more than 140,000 Filipinos in Taiwan if a shooting war breaks out, Cruz-Angeles said that as of now, Philippine authorities were closely monitoring the situation. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said Blinken was expected to discuss with Marcos and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo regional and global challenges, as well as ways, to “advance shared democratic values.” Also on the table were increased cooperation on energy, trade and investment, advancing shared democratic values, and pandemic recovery, the DFA said. The US Department of State said Blinken’s trip to the Philippines is part of his 10-day swing in Asia from August 2 to 11. Blinken will be arriving in Manila from Cambodia, his first stop. It will be his first visit to the country since assuming office in January 2021. The last US Secretary of State to visit the Philippines was Mike Pompeo in March 2019. Meanwhile, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros said on Friday that Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian should not lecture the Philippines on how it should pursue its foreign policy objectives. During a TV interview last Tuesday, Huang reminded the Philippines to “strictly abide by the One-China Principle” following Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. “This position is clear and consistent. There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” the Chinese envoy said. But Hontiveros said the Philippines “is a sovereign state, following an independent foreign policy.” “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,” the senator said in a statement. Hontiveros said the ambassador “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, and ignores and flouts international law in the West Philippine Sea when it suits her interest.” She also questioned the “special relationship” between the Philippines and China. “Ano nga ba ang special relationship na ito? Hegemon-Client State? Master-Servant? Bully-Victim? Huwag silang magmando ng kung ano ang dapat gawin ng bansa natin, kung hindi nga nila magawang respetuhin ang ating karagatan, teritoryo at soberanya (What is this special relationship? Hegemon-Client State? Master-Servant? BullyVictim? They should not dictate on what our country must do, if they cannot respect our waters, territory and sovereignty),” Hontiveros said. She said it is unfortunate that Huang “felt the need to impose his will on our country, disrespecting our agency and autonomy.”