China envoy told: Stop making excuses for ‘ill-advised’ remarks
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday said the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines should stop making excuses for his “ill-advised pronouncements” advising the country to reject Taiwanese independence.
Hontiveros earlier called on Malacañang to ask Beijing to recall Chinese envoy Huang Xilian after he said: “The Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose ‘Taiwan independence’ rather than stoking the fire by offering the United States access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait if you care genuinely about the 150,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).”
READ: China envoy’s Edca warning cites fate of Taiwan OFWs
But the Chinese Embassy on Sunday argued that Huang’s statement was taken “out of context.”
Hontiveros backed the call of her fellow senators for the Philippine government to have a contingency plan should tensions between Beijing and Taiwan further escalate.
Beijing has staked territorial claims over Taiwan, threatening to retake the self-ruled, democratic island.
Hontiveros, however, said that before the Philippines endeavors a contingency plan, it “must again first communicate to Beijing that their representative should not be making statements threatening our people.”
“We heard the Chinese Ambassador’s speech very clearly, so I hope he stops making excuses for his ill-advised pronouncements. My statement asking for the Palace to recall the ambassador still stands,” the legislator said in a statement.
Hontiveros called on China to abide by international humanitarian law and steer clear of “deliberately targeting civilians, especially those of a nation not involved in threatened hostilities.”
“And if worse comes to worst, of course, Malacañang should indeed have a contingency plan. The prospective loss of livelihood of 150,000 OFWs will have to be addressed. Our labor agencies should already have strategies in place to prepare for this scenario,” she said.
The economic ties between the Philippines and Taiwan must also be further strengthened to ensure the job security of OFWs on the island, Hontiveros added.
She also noted that the government had in the past rescued distressed Filipino migrant workers in the past.
“I know our state agencies can again come together to help our citizens in Taiwan should danger ensue,” the senator said.
Contingency plans in place
Sen. Francis Tolentino and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada earlier said contingency plans must be in place in case the need to evacuate hundreds of thousands of OFWs in Taiwan arises.
After keeping mum about Huang’s remarks over the weekend, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said it is committed to upholding the welfare and security of all Filipinos abroad, including OFWs.
“We assure the public that contingency plans are in place in all places where there are high numbers of OFWs,” it said in a separate statement.
DFA then noted that its relations with other countries had always been “on the basis of mutual respect and adherence to the general principles of international law, including the non-use of force as an instrument of national policy.”
“We offer our friendship to all,” it added.
China not renouncing use of force
Huang on Friday echoed the position of China on the move to add four new sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), giving American troops more access to Philippine military bases, particularly in Northern Luzon and Palawan.
“Facts speak louder than words. Obviously, the US intends to take advantage of the new EDCA sites to interfere in the situation across the Taiwan Strait to serve its geopolitical goals, and advance its anti-China agenda at the expense of peace and development of the Philippines and the region at large,” he said at the 8th Manila Forum of the Association for Philippine-China Understanding.
Huang said some “tried to find excuses” for the new Edca sites by citing the safety of OFWs in Taiwan.
And while he insisted that China is the “last country” to want conflict over Taiwan, noting the people on both sides are Chinese, Huang said, “we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.”
“This is to guard against external interference and all separatist activities,” he added.