Manila, Nov 20 (EFE).- Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday highlighted the importance of his country’s alliance with the United States and regional allies amid escalated tensions over territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.
“The increasing tensions in the South China Sea require that we partner with our allies and our friends around the world, so for us to come to some kind of resolution and to maintain the peace,” Marcos said in Hawaii, where he arrived after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit held in San Francisco.
“Tensions in the West Philippine Sea are growing with persistent unlawful threats and challenges against Philippine sovereign rights and jurisdiction over our exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf, actions that violate obligations under international law,” he added.
China and the Philippines are locked in a dispute over the sovereignty of several islands and shoals in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely citing “historical records.”
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of Manila in its complaint against Beijing’s claims, a ruling China has refused to accept.
Since coming to power in June last year, Marcos Jr. has tried to strengthen the alliance with the US, one of the Philippines’ oldest allies, after a six-year period of cooling ties during the tenure of his predecessor. Rodrigo Duterte, who favored deepening ties with China.
Marcos said that the Philippines had contacted other Southeast Asian nations with which it has territorial disputes, including Vietnam and Malaysia, to make their own code of conduct.
Since 2002, the Philippines and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have attempted to negotiate with China to create a framework to establish a maritime code of conduct but there has not been much progress on the front.
“As I have said before, and I will say again, the Philippines will not give up a single square inch of our territory to any foreign power,” Marcos said in his address, which came a day after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit to seek ways to reduce tension over the disputed territories in the South China Sea.
In recent months, incidents between Chinese and Filipino vessels around the disputed islets – mostly located less than 200 miles off the western Philippine coast – have increased in frequency and intensity, while the US, Canada, Japan and Australia have announced their desire to patrol these disputed waters with the Philippine coast guard. EFE