MANILA - The Philippines is not inclined to meddle in the increasingly tense rhetoric between China and Taiwan, a Palace spokesperson said, after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on its democratic allies to help defend its sovereignty.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the dispute should be left between the two countries.
“It’s between the two countries. Tayo ang concern natin is the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers). Hindi kasi natin alam eh. Hayaan muna natin sila,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
(It’s between the two countries. Our concern is our OFWs there. We don’t know the situation so we will let them be for now.)
Relations between Taiwan and China have been at a low since Tsai came to power in 2016, refusing to acknowledge that the self-ruled island is part of "one China".
Beijing unilaterally cut off communication with her administration and stepped up military drills around the island as well as poaching several of its dwindling diplomatic allies.
Tsai's comments capped a week of escalating rhetoric between the two neighbors, sparked by a landmark speech from Chinese president Xi Jinping on Wednesday last week.
Xi described Taiwan's unification with the mainland as "inevitable" and reiterated Beijing's willingness to use force if necessary, especially if Taiwan ever declares formal independence.
He also said Beijing was willing to talk to political parties and groups in Taiwan that recognized their "one China" principle -- a reference to the main opposition parties.
Tsai hit out at Beijing's willingness to bypass her elected government as "a continuation of its deliberate campaign to undermine and subvert our democratic process and create division in our society".
"At a time when we are exhausting efforts to avoid provocation and miscommunication, China's actions are unhelpful and contrary to democratic practices," she said in a briefing with foreign media on Saturday.
China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since they split in 1949 after a civil war. - with Agence France-Presse