The Philippines will remain neutral and won’t take side in the tensions flaring up between the United States and China, National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos has said.
Such tensions reached new high after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan, which Beijing considers as a “provocation” and a violation of their “One China Policy.” Under the said policy, China deems Taiwan as its province.
However, the top security adviser stated that the country is viewing the developments with “concern” especially with the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Manila on Friday night, August 5.
“This visit by Speaker Pelosi might ratchet up the temperature in the region which we do not want to happen as we also reside in this region and we are stuck in between the two conflicting superpowers, China and the US,” Carlos said.
“Essentially, we will just continue engaging with both parties/actors and the President (Marcos) has declared repeatedly that we will engage critically and constructively with both China and the US. You really have to make a fine calibration of our relationship with these two political countries,” she added.
Carlos emphasized that there were a lot of “moving parts” that have to be considered in the issue so taking sides is not adviseable.
Among these is the fact that China is a neighboring country to the Philippines and the two have continuing conflict in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the United States is a defense ally of the Philippines and there is the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), a defense pact signed by both nations in 1951 which states that either country should defend the other in case of an armed attack by a third party nation.
Further, taking sides could affect or worsen the lives of 145,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in Taiwan, Carlos stated.
Most of the OFWs are in the manufacturing industry since Taiwan is a sophisticated microchip manufacturing country, but their raw materials come from the mainland China. Any aggression against China could result to economic setbacks which may involve the OFWs in Taiwan, she explained.
“We have to protect them. That is why we have what we call MECO [Manila Economic and Cultural Office] because they are the ones in charge of the consular requirements of the 145,000 Filipino workers. So we have a stake there, that Taiwan being a stable political and military condition and no factor should disrupt that situation,” she noted.
As to Blinken’s visit, Carlos viewed this as a form of “damage control” by the US since the Philippines may be caught in a crossfire when Beijing and Washington’s feud explodes.