July 24, 2023
MANILA – Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro on Thursday expressed support for all kinds of moves meant to connect with Beijing.
Teodoro made his position known after meeting former president Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We’d like to wait as to what was the outcome of such a meeting and we encourage all efforts, anyway, to engage with China on a track to [diplomacy or] non-formal track,” Teodoro said in a press conference at the Department of National Defense headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Track II diplomacy refers to “unofficial, informal interaction between members of adversary groups or nations that aim to develop strategies, to influence public opinion, (and) organize human and material resources in ways that might help resolve their conflict,” according to the definition of the United Nations.
For Teodoro, adequate safety measures are a must, implying that the Philippines must fight for its rights in the sea conflict.
“From where I sit, my position is to build a credible deterrent posture against all threats,” he said.
On Monday, Duterte and the Chinese leader met at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
No further details were provided.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. previously welcomed the open line of communication with China through Duterte.
He hoped the two leaders talked about issues of national interest.
Teodoro echoed Marcos’ position.
“Same as the president,” the defense secretary said.
“We would like to know what issue of national interest was talked about.”
Despite the tension from Beijing’s nine-dash line claim, Duterte’s administration had close ties with China.
China believes it owns almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.
Contrary to this, upon assumption to the presidency, Marcos restored the Philippines’ strong relationship with the United States.
He allowed Washington more access to several Philippine military bases, which drew the ire of Beijing.