Blinken Visits Philippines to Boost Alliance Amid China Tensions

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken seeks to bolster America’s alliance with the Philippines underneath President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. throughout a two-day go to to Manila as tensions between the US and China spike.

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(Bloomberg) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken seeks to bolster America’s alliance with the Philippines underneath President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. throughout a two-day go to to Manila as tensions between the US and China spike.

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Blinken, the primary cabinet-level US official to go to the brand new Philippine chief, in a gathering with Marcos on Saturday reiterated the US’s dedication to the 1951 Mutual Protection Treaty, which pledged help in case of international assault. He may even pitch for stronger ties with the Southeast Asian nation on pandemic restoration, vitality, commerce and investments throughout his go to, the State Division stated in a press release. 

“Our relationship is sort of extraordinary as a result of it’s actually based in friendship,” Blinken instructed Marcos on the presidential palace. “The alliance is powerful, and I imagine will likely be stronger. We’re dedicated to the mutual protection treaty. We’re dedicated to working with you on shared challenges.”

China can also be searching for to heat ties with the Philippines, which is a former American colony and longtime treaty ally that’s seen its ties with the US flip shaky lately. Relations between Washington and Manila soured underneath former President Rodrigo Duterte, who rejected American criticism of his human rights file and vowed an “unbiased international coverage” together with nearer ties with Beijing.

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Blinken’s Manila journey follows Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s go to this week to close by Taiwan, which ramped up tensions between the US and China. 

Marcos stated Pelosi’s go to highlighted how tense issues are within the area. Her go to, “to be completely candid, I didn’t assume it raised the depth, it simply demonstrated how the depth of the battle has been at that stage for a great whereas now,” Marcos instructed Blinken.

Whereas Marcos desires to spice up commerce ties with the US as a substitute of a “dependence” on assist, and signaled an openness to affix an financial initiative pushed by President Joe Biden to counter Chinese language affect, Beijing has made early efforts to shore up its beneficial properties within the Philippines. 

China despatched Vice President Wang Qishan to Marcos’ inauguration, whereas the Biden administration was represented by Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff. 

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Chinese language Overseas Minister Wang Yi met with Marcos final month and the 2 sides pledged to keep up a robust relationship. The Philippines has locked horns with China over the previous few years over Beijing’s growing presence within the resource-rich South China Sea. Marcos has stated that he won’t cede “even a sq. inch of territory” to any international energy.

The US will wish to preserve the Philippines as an in depth ally within the area by means of Blinken’s go to, particularly due to Manila’s proximity to Taiwan, stated Herman Kraft, who teaches political science on the College of the Philippines. 

“There’s a whole lot of consideration being given to the Philippines so early within the Marcos administration to disclaim China any inroads,” Kraft stated. “The US desires to be sure that it maintains the Philippines as an ally, and that it doesn’t go in direction of the opposite excessive of being an ally to China.”

Marcos is dealing with a $354 million superb for contempt of court docket within the US after he did not adjust to rulings on disbursing his household’s belongings. Regardless of this, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman stated throughout a go to in June that Marcos could be welcome within the US given his diplomatic immunity.

(Updates with feedback from Blinken and Marcos all through.)

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