MANILA — The Chinese Embassy in Manila said Ambassador Huang Xilian was "misquoted" after he received flak for his pronouncements blasting the United States' expanded access to Philippine military bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
"It is appreciated that there was extensive coverage on Ambassador Huang Xilian's speech at the 8th Manila Forum," the embassy said in a tweet on Sunday.
"Unfortunately some misquoted or misinterpreted Ambassador Huang's remarks or simply took part of the Ambassador's words out of context," it added.
The embassy also provided a transcript of his speech "to set the record straight."
"Some tried to find excuse for the new EDCA sites by citing the safety of the 150,000 OFWs in Taiwan, while China is the last country that wishes to see conflict over the Strait because people on both sides are Chinese," the official transcript of Huang's speech read.
"But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures. This is to guard against external interference and all separatist activities."
"The Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose 'Taiwan independence' rather than stoking the fire by offering the US access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs," it also read.
Huang's remarks have prompted various reactions from the Philippine government, with the Department of National Defense and National Security Council saying that the Philippines was not meddling with China's affairs with Taiwan.
Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong even described Huang's remarks as his "illusion."
NSC spokesperson Jonathan Malaya also assured that the Philippines adheres to the One China Policy and the "non-interference" principle as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and that the 4 new EDCA sites were meant to bolster the country's defenses.
Some analysts and a retired general have described Huang's pronouncements as a "veiled threat."
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had also maintained that the new EDCA sites would not be used for offensive attacks after the Chinese government noted that 2 of these bases were located at the northernmost tip of Luzon, just a few hundred kilometers away from Taiwan.
On April 3, the Philippines announced it would give the United States military access to 4 new additional bases: 2 in Cagayan, one in Isabela, and another one on Balabac Island in Palawan.