Philippines won’t follow China on excluding West in disputed sea

Philippines won’t follow China on excluding West in disputed sea

FILE PHOTO: US military forces take up positions during the annual
FILE PHOTO: US military forces take up positions during the annual "Balikatan" (shoulder-to-shoulder) war games with Filipino soldiers at the shore of San Antonio, Zambales in northern Philippines April 21, 2015. (Reuters)

The Philippines’ top diplomat said the country would not follow China’s stance of keeping Western powers -- including the US -- out of the disputed South China Sea.

The South China Sea Code of Conduct that Southeast Asian nations are crafting with Beijing won’t lead to western countries’ exclusion from the waters, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said Monday.

“I can swear to you, Western powers will be in the South China Sea,” Locsin told lawmakers in a hearing in Manila. “We believe in the balance of power, that the freedom of the Filipino people depends on the balance of power in the South China Sea.”

Locsin said he had made that assurance to Western nations, without elaborating on who he had spoken to.

Tensions between the US and China over the South China Sea have been on the rise, with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo earlier this month urging Southeast Asian nations to review ties with Chinese state-owned firms involved in building artificial islands in the area.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier criticised the US for supposedly intervening in territorial disputes and strengthening its military deployment in the waters.


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