President Marcos Warns of Increased Danger in South China Sea Dispute

GROUP SHOT Asean leaders pose for a family photo with Melbourne City Business District buildings in the background at the Government House in Melbourne City, Australia, after the leaders’ luncheon during the Asean-Australia Special Summit on Wednesday, March 6, 2024. In photo are (from left) Asean Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Laos Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, Victoria State Gov. Margaret Gardner, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Thai Prime Minister Srettha, and Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. PPA POOL
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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has recently voiced his concerns over the escalating tensions between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea. In an interview with Australian journalist Sarah Ferguson, President Marcos warned that the potential for outright conflict between the two nations is now higher than ever before.

The President highlighted the need to lower the temperature and reduce the rhetoric surrounding the territorial dispute. He emphasized that the Philippines is worried about the possibility of conflict arising from misunderstandings or mistakes made by servicemen. President Marcos viewed the recent actions by China against Philippine vessels with great alarm, expressing his hope for a peaceful resolution.

However, President Marcos clarified that he does not believe it is the right time to invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States. He acknowledged the dangerous maneuvers and actions by China against Philippine seamen and coast guard but stated that invoking the MDT is not warranted at this moment.

President Marcos emphasized the seriousness of the situation, pointing out that Chinese actions have caused damage to a cargo ship and injuries to Filipino seamen. He stated that the Philippines cannot view these actions lightly and will make its objections known. President Marcos expressed the need for open communication to find a way to prevent such actions from occurring in the future.

To address the territorial dispute peacefully, President Marcos proposed the establishment of a direct line of communication between Manila and Beijing. He suggested a hotline between himself and President Xi Jinping to ensure effective communication between the two leaders. However, President Marcos revealed that this direct line has not been established yet.

President Marcos reiterated his commitment to defending the Philippines’ sovereignty. He emphasized that the country’s sovereignty is sacred and will not be compromised in any way. President Marcos stated that the Philippines will not allow any infringement upon its maritime rights, firmly asserting its position as a sovereign nation.

The President clarified that the defense of the Philippines’ territory does not aim to counter the military power of any country but rather to protect its own interests. He pointed out that the Philippines has successfully resolved territorial conflicts with other countries, such as Malaysia and Vietnam, through peaceful means.

During the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Special Summit, President Marcos called on Australia to continue its engagement in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. He commended Australia’s consistent support for ASEAN-led mechanisms and encouraged the country to maintain its active involvement in promoting peace and stability through confidence building, preventive diplomacy, and conflict resolution.

In conclusion, President Marcos Jr. expressed his concerns about the rising tensions in the South China Sea and emphasized the need for peaceful resolution and open communication between the Philippines and China. He reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to defending its sovereignty while seeking peaceful means to resolve territorial disputes. The President called on Australia to continue its engagement in the region to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

Source: The Manila Times

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