Blinken assures Philippines Philippines aid in South China Sea

Blinken assures Philippines Philippines aid in South China Sea

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured the Philippines on Saturday that the United States would come to its defense if attacked in the South China Sea, trying to allay concerns about the extent of the US commitment to a mutual defense treaty.

An attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft will invoke the US mutual defense commitments under that treaty, Blinken told a news conference.

The Philippines is an irreplaceable friend, partner, and ally to the United States. Blinken was the most senior US official to meet new President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr.Marcos Jnr. The son of the late strongman who Washington helped to flee into exile in Hawaii during a 1986 people power uprising that ended his two-decade rule.

In opening remarks to Blinken, Marcos attempted to downplay the diplomatic flare-up over Taiwan and said he believed Pelosi's trip did not raise the intensity of a situation already volatile. We have been at that level for a long time, but we've got used to it, Marcos said. The Philippines is a fulcrum of the geopolitical rivalry between the US and China and Marcos. It has a difficult task in balancing ties between the two major powers. He will have to face domestic pressure to stand up to China in the South China Sea, without angering its leadership. The US-Philippines ties were shaken by predecessor Rodrigo Duterte's overtures towards China, his famous anti-US rhetoric and threats to downgrade their military ties. On Saturday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said that President Joe Biden had invited Marcos to Washington, and both sides are working on a suitable date. Marcos has not been to the US for more than a decade due to a contempt of court order for his refusal to cooperate with a Hawaii court. In 1995, the Marcos family ordered $2 billion of missing state wealth to victims of abuses by the state under his father's rule. The US embassy in Manila said heads of state have diplomatic immunity. Manalo said Washington was an important ally, but about nearby Taiwan he told Blinken that the Philippines looks at the big powers to help calm the waters. He said that we can't afford a further escalation of tensions.