NSC: Philippines has ‘no intention of interfering’ in US-China Taiwan issue

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
NSC: Philippines has �no intention of interfering� in US-China Taiwan issue
This photo taken on March 31, 2023 shows Brigadier General Francis Coronel (R), of Philippine army artillery regiment, shaking hands with US army soldiers after a live fire exercise during the joint exercise between the Philippines and the US at Fort Magsaysay in the Philippines' Nueva Ecija province.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines  — Amid accusations by the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, the National Security Council stressed that Manila does not want to meddle in the Taiwan strait issue as it reiterated that the Philippines will not be a pawn of any country. 

The statement comes after Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian “advised” Manila to oppose Taiwan’s independence if the country “cares genuinely” about the over 150,000 overseas Filipino workers there. China has accused the Philippines of further intensifying the geopolitical landscape in the region by offering US access to some of its military bases.

“The Philippines is primarily concerned about improving its defense capability, modernizing our equipment and assets and developing our infrastructure,” Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya, NSC spokesperson, said in a statement late Saturday. 

The council also reiterated that the Phililppines observes a “One China Policy” and only has diplomatic relations with China. 

The Department of Migrant Workers has deferred comments on the latest statement from China to the Department of Foreign Affairs. The DFA has yet to respond to reporters’ requests for comment. 

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense said “it is prudent to prepare for any contingencies” to ensure all Filipinos abroad are safe.

RELATED: EDCA not being used to interfere in China-Taiwan conflict, says DND

Taiwan tensions

Tensions in the Taiwan strait riled up after high-ranking officials from the United States started visiting Taiwan, beginning with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island in August last year. 

China previously warned the US that a visit would “seriously” harm China’s sovereignty and send a wrong signal to separatist forces. 

Chinese Ambassador Huang also accused the US of prepositioning itself to have access to Taiwan via the Philippines after the announcement of four additional sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which provides the US access to Philippine military bases to store defense equipment and humanitarian aid supplies as well as allows joint training. 

Three of the new EDCA sites are located in Northern Philippines — in Cagayan and Isabela.

RELATED: US using EDCA for cross-straits interference – Chinese envoy

“Judging from the locations of the new military bases, the intention behind those sites is more than obvious,” Wang Wenbin, spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a press conference last Wednesday.

EDCA not for attacks

However, Malaya noted that National Security Adviser Eduardo Año “personally assured” Huang in a meeting last week that “the additional EDCA sites are not meant for offensive operations against China or for interference in the Taiwan issue, but instead are meant to protect the territorial integrity of the country.” 

Año also explained that the EDCA sites were chosen with the guidelines of the Strategic Basing Plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and were not dictated by the US. 

It was also President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who approved of the sites. 

The US Embassy on Friday reiterated that the sites will be used for combined training exercises and to develop interoperability between Manila and Washington’s troops, adding that “EDCA is a key component of the US-Philippine alliance, and is not about any other third country.”

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