Marcos: China claiming our territories

NEW YORK CITY — Speaking before the Asia Society group here, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday afternoon (Saturday morning in Manila) asserted the country’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea.

Still, the President said the Philippine government will continue to work with China and other claimants in the WPS to address the dispute through diplomatic negotiations.

He maintained, however, that there is no ongoing territorial conflict in the area called by Beijing the South China Sea, a potential flashpoint among claimant nations, according to geopolitical experts.

“We don’t have a territorial conflict with China. What we have is China claiming territories that belong to the Philippines,” Marcos said.

Nonetheless, the Chief Executive stressed that he has asked the Chinese government “not to make our differences” concerning maritime concerns “the defining element of our relationship.”

“I have always told my Chinese friends and, I said, let us not make our differences concerning maritime — like the baselines, the economic zones, et cetera — let us not make that the defining element of our relationship,” he said.

“Because if that is the only defining — if that will be the defining part of our relationship, then we are really at a standstill,” he added.

People initiatives

Marcos said he would rather “engage China” in developing people-to-people ties, education, and cultural exchanges, among others.

“Although we maintain our position in terms of our maritime territories and our fishing rights, our economic zones, we have nonetheless tried to continue to engage China on that basis, on those subjects, but also engage China on other aspects,” he said.

“The people-to-people relationships, even the economic relationships that we have fostered with China, even some of the other exchanges that we have had in terms of education, in terms of cultural exchanges, in terms of all of the other things.”

He emphasized his call for unity and maintained that the Philippines will continue to be a “friend to all and an enemy to none.”

The President reassured the Filipino nation that he would “not give up even a square inch of the Philippine territory.”

“As I clearly stated in my State of the Nation Address, I will not preside over any process that will abandon even a square inch of the territory of the Republic of the Philippines to any foreign power,” he said.

He added that the Philippines will remain a “good neighbor” to all nations and the country seeks collaboration that will bring “mutually beneficial outcomes.”

“We will continue to be a good neighbor — always finding ways to collaborate with the end goal of mutually beneficial outcomes. If we agree, we will cooperate and we will work together. And, if we differ, we will negotiate until we reach an agreement,” he emphasized.

“I spoke about the importance of dialogue and solidarity in the face of the many challenges and threats that we now have to deal with. This means exerting every possible effort to transcend our differences and commit to ending the conflict,” he added.

In a press briefing on Friday evening, Marcos said he would prefer any approach that will work in settling the territorial disputes.

Arbitral ruling

“I will prefer any approach that will work. Subukan natin lahat (let’s try all),” he said.

Manila has a long-standing maritime dispute with Beijing in the WPS despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in favor of the Philippines.

Beijing lays claim to over 80 percent of the South China Sea, including the WPS which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Meanwhile, in the same forum, Marcos said maximum restraint should be exercised amid rising tensions in Taiwan.

“We urge all parties involved to exercise maximum restraint. Dialogue and diplomacy must prevail,” Marcos said.

He stressed the importance of maintaining channels to result in a peaceful resolution of issues.

“We adhere to the One China Policy and have consistently called for the peaceful resolution of the issues involving Taiwan,” he noted.

The President referred to the diplomatic acknowledgment of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government.
The Philippine chief executive reiterated his commitment to upholding peace and pushing for partnerships with its neighbors.

“We will continue to work toward strengthening ASEAN, particularly its dialogue partnerships with neighbors that uphold regional peace and security,” he said.

Tensions over Taiwan are spiking over a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which has further strained relations between Washington and Beijing.

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