‘We believe…that the freedom of the Filipino people depends on the balance of power in the South China Sea to the exclusion of no other great power in the world,’ says Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr
The Philippines has vowed to keep Western powers in the South China Sea, challenging China’s demand to keep them out of the strategic waterway.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr told lawmakers at the House of Representatives that this was the Philippines’ position as members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) were in talks for a South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC).
“I have assured the West that when we do the code of conduct, we will never, never adopt what China wants, which is the exclusion of Western power from the South China Sea,” Locsin said. “I can swear to you, Western power will be in the South China Sea.”
The foreign secretary said: “China’s demand to exclude Western powers from the South China Sea – that I will never allow…. The Western powers must be present in the South China Sea as a balancer.”
Locsin made the statement when asked by lawmakers why the Philippines only filed protests against China while other Southeast Asian states claimed ownership of maritime features in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Locsin said that while Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan also claimed some features, it was only China that the Philippines was in active conflict with. This was because Beijing continued its aggressive behavior to assert its expansive claims, which has no legal nor historical basis, according to the 2016 ruling of the tribunal in the Hague.