Facing China, Kamala Harris promises “unwavering” commitment to the Philippines

Facing China Kamala Harris promises unwavering commitment to the Philippines

The United States has an “unwavering” commitment to the Philippines, US Vice President Kamala Harris told the archipelago’s president on Monday during a visit to strengthen ties between the two allies in the face of China.

Kamala Harris is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Manila since Trump took office in June. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.. This visit is the sign of a rapprochement between the two allies after years of strained relations under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, more favorable to Beijing.

The vice-president also met her Filipino counterpart Sara Duterte, the former leader’s daughter. ” We stand with you to uphold international rules and standards for the South China Sea Kamala Harris told Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the start of their interview in the presidential palace in Manila. ” An attack on Philippine armed forces, government vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would trigger the Mutual Defense Commitment…it is our unwavering commitment to the Philippines. »

No future without the United States

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., for his part, said he did not consider “ future for the Philippines without the United States “. Washington has a long and complicated relationship with the Marcos family. Dictator Ferdinand Marcos, father of the current president, led the former American colony for two decades with the support of Washington, which saw in him an ally against the Communist bloc during the Cold War.

Since the new head of state came to power, Washington has sought to strengthen its alliance with Manila, in a context of growing regional tensions. This alliance includes a 2014 defense treaty and pact, known by the acronym EDCA, which allows the US military to stock defense equipment and supplies at multiple Philippine bases. Under this pact, American troops can access five military bases in the archipelago. While the pact had stalled under Duterte, the United States and the Philippines have since vowed to speed up its implementation.

We have identified new locations and started a process with the Philippines to finalize them a US official told reporters on condition of anonymity ahead of Kamala Harris’ visit to Manila. ” The United States has allocated more than $82 million for operations (of existing bases) and more will follow “, he added.

Upholding international order in the South China Sea

The US Vice President will also meet with the Philippine Coast Guard and travel to the island of Palawan on Tuesday, located opposite the hotly contested waters of the south china sea. China claims sovereignty over almost all of this sea, parts of which are claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

Asked about Kamala Harris’ visit on Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Mao Ning, said Beijing ” is not opposed to trade between the United States and countries in the region “. ” But these exchanges must be conducive to regional peace and stability and must not harm the interests of other countries. “, she underlined during a regular press conference. Beijing ignores a 2016 arbitration court ruling that its claims in the South China Sea have no legal basis.

Kamala Harris” reaffirm the strength of the alliance and our commitment to upholding the rules-based international order, in the South China Sea and the wider Indo-Pacific region said the US official, referring to the Asia-Pacific region. The trip comes after she and US President Joe Biden met separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week.

Read also: Before the G20, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping plead for an easing of Sino-American relations

(with AFP)