Blinken: US won't 'overreact' over China's angry response to Pelosi's Taiwan visit

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2022 09:15 AM | Updated as of Aug 08 2022 10:27 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) — The United States will not "overreact" over China's continuing aggression in Taiwan Strait following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit there this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. 

In an exclusive interview on ANC's Headstart, Blinken urged China to be responsible for its actions despite its differences with the US and other countries. China intensified its military drills in Taiwan Strait after Pelosi's visit.

"When there are differences between the United States and China, that we managed responsibly. That's what we're focused on doing. So we're not going to overreact ourselves," Blinken said. 

"I think this reaction by China is something that's very concerning to countries throughout the region, and even beyond... we hope that China engages with the responsible management what differences we do have," he added. 

The US official earlier in his official visit emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability in Taiwan Strait as the developments there might also affect the Philippines.

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Major ships and trade pass through the "critical" waterway annually, which is why it is important that peace and security around it would be maintained. 

"Maintaining peace and security in the Taiwan Strait is vital not only in Taiwan but for the Philippines and many other countries. What happens to the Taiwan Strait affects the entire region in many ways," Blinken earlier said in a joint briefing with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). 

Aside from this concern, he noted that China suspended "several military to military channels" and "all" climate cooperation with the United States following Pelosi's visit in Taiwan. 

He had described this as an "irresponsible step" during the press briefing. 

"China is now the largest emitter in the world, if it's not participating in dealing with climate change in the effects that Filipinos are feeling every day with massive new storms and other disruptions," Blinken told ANC. 

"If China is not participating, that's not punishing us. It's punishing the world. And the very least, we should be able to continue to cooperate in areas where there are global concerns."

The Palace earlier said the Philippines is adhering to the One China policy. This, following Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian's statement telling Manila that it should abide by the policy. 

The DFA also echoed the Palace's position. 

Under the One-China policy, Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory despite the island asserting it is a self-governing entity.

MARITIME DRILLS WITH PH 

The resumption of Philippines' joint maritime drills in the South China Sea may be tackled by the Pentagon or other US officials, he said, after Marcos' predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, suspended it in 2016

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) though continues to conduct patrols in the West Philippine Sea, the country's exclusive economic zone (EZZ) in the resource-rich South China Sea. Several countries have conducted their own joint patrols in the area. 

Beijing continues to disregard a 2016 UN-backed arbitral ruling nullifying their historical claims in most of the disputed waters and instead ramped up militarization there.

"I think based on my own conversations, including with the foreign secretary, there, it's clear that there is even more that we could do together and not just in the security area," said Blinken. 

"There are lots of things that we can do together beyond what we've done in the past or that we're doing now and we'd have almost daily if not hourly contact with some of the areas."

For Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo's part, the issue on the join patrols in the West Philippine Sea between Manila and Washington "are under the ambit" of the Mutual Defense Treaty

"This is an issue which we will continue to explore bilaterally and as I mentioned there are existing multiple platforms for which the discussion of this nature could be held," said Manalo in the joint presser.

Blinken, meantime, said the MDT was a "living document" that can "adapt" to present circumstances.

"We’re in a region that's going through an extraordinary change, we’re a Pacific country as well, a region that has extraordinary opportunities... What underpins that is security...freedom of navigation, the seas, all of this is part of the successful partnership that we have," he told ANC's Headstart.

"What's important to us is that all countries, the US included, play by the rules...If international law is violated with impunity then everything risks eroding and falling apart. We’re allies with the Philippines so the future and security of Philippines, the well-being of Filipinos is important to us as allies and friends and partners."

The two nations will "probably have more activities" as far as the Visiting Forces Agreement is concerned, according to Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

"The US has wanted more exercises and more coordination with our militaries. We may be seeing a lot more of that in the coming years.
It’s an evolution of this Mutual Defense Treaty and alliance with the US," he told ANC's Headstart in a separate interview.

"We’re also trying our best to work with other nations involved with this whole other exercise...We’re working with our ASEAN neighbors in trying to come out with a solution to make sure there's freedom of navigation."

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