PH, US top diplomats discuss China ‘militia vessels,’ anti-Asian hate attacks
MANILA, Philippines — Top diplomats of the Philippines and the United States discussed concerns over the massing of China’s “militia vessels” in the West Philippine Sea with Washington’s state secretary reaffirming his country’s defense obligation with its oldest military ally in Asia.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken talked over the phone as the Philippines marked its Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) on Friday.
“Substantive conversation today with my Philippine counterpart, [Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr.], discussing our concerns with People’s Republic of China militia vessels in the South China Sea and our efforts to combat anti-Asian hate and violence,” Blinken said on Twitter.
Substantive conversation today with my Philippine counterpart, @teddyboylocsin, discussing our concerns with People’s Republic of China militia vessels in the South China Sea and our efforts to combat anti-Asian hate and violence. #FriendsPartnersAlliesFEATURED STORIES
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) April 9, 2021
In a separate statement, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken “reaffirmed the applicability of the 1951 U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty to the South China Sea.”
“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, Jr. Both expressed their shared concerns with the massing of PRC maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea, including at Whitsun Reef, and reiterated their calls on the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to abide by the 2016 arbitration ruling issued pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention,” Price said.
He was referring to the July 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which ruled in favor of the Philippines and invalidated China’s expansive nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea. Beijing refuses to recognize this ruling.
Aside from concerns over China’s continuing incursions in the West Philippine Sea, the two officials also discussed the rising anti-Asian hate attacks in the United States.
“Secretary Blinken also discussed the Administration’s efforts to combat rising hate and violence against Asian-Americans,” Price said.
A string of anti-Asian attacks has recently been reported in the United States, among the latest involving a 65-year-old Filipino-American woman in New York.
Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Romualdez earlier said Washington has been taking “stringent steps” to curb anti-Asian violence there in response to frequent reports of such incidents.
Among these steps are the setting up of “special hotlines” as well as the deployment of more law enforcers in public vehicles and in areas where a large number of Asian Americans work and reside, according to Romualdez.
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