Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said the Philippines and Southeast Asian nations can ill-afford the escalation of tension over Taiwan triggered by the recent visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.
During his recent meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Manalo said an escalation could risk creating instability in the region, just as the world recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We can ill-afford any further escalation of tensions in the region, because we are already facing a number of challenges in getting our economy back to work, especially because of the Covid-19 pandemic. And we all know that no one country will be able to deal with all these issues on their own,” he said.
Manalo said the Philippines considers the United States as a “very important ally, our dear friend, as we chart our path forward.” Blinken, for his part, assured the US is” determined to act responsibly” to avoid crisis and conflict in the region.
He said the US “always stands by” its partners as he cited the “deep concerns” expressed by countries, including the Philippines, over the latest developments in the Taiwan Strait.
“Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is vital, not only for Taiwan, but for the Philippines, and many other countries. What happens in the Taiwan Strait affects the entire region. And in many ways, it affects the entire world because the strait, like the South China Sea, is a critical waterway,” Blinken said in a media briefing.
“The United States doesn’t believe that it’s in the interest of Taiwan, the region or our own national security to escalate that situation,” he stressed, adding the US would keep its channel and communication with China open to avoid miscalculation due to misunderstanding or miscommunication.