US policy shift on SCS maritime row raised during call between Pompeo, Locsin
MANILA, Philippines — The recent policy shift of the United States on maritime claims in the South China Sea (SCS) was raised during a phone call between the top diplomats of Manila and Washington.
In a statement Friday (Manila time), the U.S. Department of State said U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. also discussed the “U.S. support for Southeast Asian coastal states upholding their sovereign rights and interests consistent with international law” during the August 6 phone call.
“The two secretaries also discussed the strong economic, security, and people-to-people ties that bind our two countries,” the U.S. State Department added.
Opportunities for further maritime cooperation between the U.S. and the Philippines were also tackled.
This, even amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s “standing order” banning the Philippines from joining navies of other countries, like the US, in naval exercises in the South China Sea to avoid raising tension in the area.
China lauded this move from the Philippines but Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Beijing should not read “too much into it.”
“We’re sitting out this one, we don’t know if we will the next one. Okay?” Manila’s top diplomat said, adding that the Philippines’ stand on the maritime dispute remains “consistent and clear.”
Earlier, Pompeo asserted that “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”
“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,” he said in a statement last July 14.
“America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law,” Pompeo added.
Following Pompeo’s remarks regarding Beijing’s claims, China’s top diplomat in Manila warned claimant states, including the Philippines, against “intensified meddling” by the United States in the South China Sea dispute.
The Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei all have overlapping claims over the South China Sea.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.