January 31, 2024
MANILA – The Philippines remains firm in defending its territory but still wants to dialogue with China, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday.
“We are firm in defending our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction against any provocations. But at the same time, we are also seeking to address these issues with China through peaceful dialogue and consultations as two equal sovereign states,” Marcos told Vietnamese President Võ Văn Thưởng during their meeting.
Marcos cited the December 2023 incident when a Chinese vessel fired a water cannon at a Philippine vessel.
China and the United States have exchanged barbs over the matter, with Washington warning Beijing not to destabilize the region.
China, however, has accused the Philippines of enlisting foreign powers, including the US, to help patrol the disputed waters.
Marcos emphasized to Thưởng that the Philippines has an independent foreign policy.
“The Philippines considers both the United States and China as key actors in maintaining peace and security, as well as economic growth and development of our region. The U.S. is the Philippines’ only treaty ally,” said Marcos.
“And as such, we continue to pursue military cooperation with the US to strengthen our defensive capabilities and our ability to respond to humanitarian crises and disasters,” he added.