Kamala Harris tells Philippines that US will defy Chinese aggression

Kamala Harris tells Philippines that US will defy Chinese aggression
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Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday during her first official visit to the Philippines that the United States will honor a 1951 bilateral defense treaty and defend Philippine vessels against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

The question is relevant as the Philippines on Monday accused China of using force to recover rocket debris near the disputed Spratly Islands.

“Especially when it comes to the Philippines, I will say that we must always reiterate that we stand with you to uphold international rules and standards when it comes to the South China Sea,” Harris said. said after meeting Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at Malacanang, the presidential palace in Manila.

“An armed attack on the Philippines, armed forces, government vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments. And that’s an unwavering commitment we have to the Philippines,” Harris said.

Marcos replied that he appreciated the Mutual Defense Treaty and hinted that he wanted stronger relations with the United States than his predecessor.

“I’ve said it many times: I don’t see a future for the Philippines that doesn’t include the United States. And that really comes from the very long relationship we have with the United States,” he said.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visits the Philippine Coast Guard vessel “Teresa Magbanua” at the Port of Puerto Princesa on Nov. 22, 2022. (HAIYUN JIANG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States signed a Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines in 1951, one of the oldest such treaties still in effect in the modern world. The treaty has didn’t do much to deter China from constantly bullying the Philippines in disputed waters, perhaps in part because former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to distance himself from Washington and curry favor with Beijing.

When the treaty was signed, the Philippines was building a formidable army, but it rotted through neglect to a handful of patrol ships. When Philippine officials talked about revising or abandoning the treaty last year, the Chinese would have told them to leave it alone, because Beijing would have liked this inert agreement as it is.

On Monday, as Harris arrived in Manila, Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos of the Philippine Navy accused a Chinese Coast Guard vessel to block the passage of a Philippine rubber dinghy that was towing an “unidentified floating object” near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

According to Carlos, the object appeared to be debris from a Chinese rocket that fell in Philippine-claimed waters earlier in November. The Chinese vessel deployed an inflatable boat which “forcefully retrieved said floating object by cutting the tow line attached to the inflatable boat.”

China’s Foreign Ministry claimed the incident was a minor misunderstanding and said the Filipinos voluntarily “returned the floating object to the Chinese side” after “friendly on-site consultation”.

“The Chinese side expressed their gratitude to the Philippine side. There was no so-called blocking of the route of a Philippine Navy vessel and forceful recovery of the object at the scene,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry, flatly contradicting Carlos’ account of the incident.

The Chinese state enterprise world times on Tuesday condemned Harris for “fanning the flames of the South China Sea issue” by planning a visit to the front lines of the Sino-Philippine territorial dispute.

The world times managed to intimidate the Philippines while claiming China only wants peaceful relations, warning Marcos not to let the Biden administration ‘force the fuse of conflict in the South China Sea’ into its hands and maneuver it to provoke China.

“To be honest, this decision is not so nice,” the Chinese Communist newspaper sneered menacingly.

Kamala Harris Tells Philippines That Us Will Defy Chinese Aggression

US Vice President Kamala Harris lays a wreath in honor of the nearly 150 American prisoners of war who lost their lives towards the end of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, at Plaza Cuartel, a garrison and memorial to the restored Spanish colonial era, at the port of Puerto Princesa, November 22, 2022. (HAIYUN JIANG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“Washington has made the South China Sea one of its strategic points against China. Its actions in the region are not intended to de-escalate the situation. Instead, they aim to push for an escalation and encourage countries in the region to take provocative action against China and boost their momentum to crack down on China,” the official said. world times accused.

“Target countries that have been ‘selected’ by the United States must stay sober to avoid falling into traps,” the editorial concludes.

On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin tenuous his first face-to-face meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in April, a visit that outraged Beijing and sparked weeks of military drills intimidating around Taiwan.

According to the Pentagon’s account of Austin’s 90-minute meeting with Wei in Cambodia, the US Secretary of Defense expressed concern over “the increasingly dangerous behavior of PLA aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region. which increases the risk of accidents.

PLA stands for People’s Liberation Army, China’s name for its military forces. A significant incident of such dangerous behavior occurred in June, when a PLA fighter carried out a close interception of an Australian surveillance plane over the South China Sea.

The Australian Ministry of Defense said the PLA fighter in question not only approached from a dangerous distance, but also released a radar-deflecting chaff packet, which was sucked into the engine of the Australian plane.

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