China exec tackles regional security in PH visit | Global News

China exec tackles regional security in PH visit

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang STORY: China exec tackles regional security in PH visit

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang attends a joint press conference with Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on April 14, 2023. (Pool photo by Suo Takekuma / Agence France-Presse)

MANILA, Philippines — Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang will make an official visit to the Philippines late this week and will discuss with his counterpart “regional security issues of mutual concern,” including the South China Sea, and other areas of cooperation in energy, agriculture, and trade, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday.

Qin’s April 21-23 visit at the invitation of Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo will be his first official engagement with Manila since he was appointed foreign minister and state councilor in December.


Qin and Manalo will talk about implementing agreements made during the state visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to China in January and the outcome of last month’s bilateral talks on the South China Sea.


The visit comes amid displeasure in Beijing over the Philippines expanding American military access to its bases.

China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, last week caused a stir when he accused the country of “stoking the fire” of regional tensions by offering expanded military base access to treaty ally the United States, which he accused of interfering.

On Friday, Huang said the Philippines should “unequivocally oppose” Taiwan’s independence instead of “stoking the fire” by giving US troops more access to local military locations under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), warning that this could put at risk the more than 150,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on the self-ruled island that China claims as its own.

The Chinese envoy’s remarks on the welfare of OFWs in Taiwan caused a backlash among lawmakers, but the Chinese Embassy said Huang’s statement was taken “out of context.”

A Makabayan lawmaker on Tuesday added to mounting criticism of Huang’s statement, saying the Chinese ambassador “crossed the line” in issuing a “veiled threat” in advising Manila not to support Taipei, citing the safety of Filipino workers there.

“The Chinese ambassador is sending a veiled threat to our OFWs in Taiwan to pressure the Philippines to abide by the ‘One China’ principle. He clearly crossed the line, and Malacañang should recommend that he must be immediately recalled,” said House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas.


Action plan

Huang’s remarks also sparked calls for the government to prepare for the possible repatriation of the OFWs in case tensions between China and Taiwan worsen.

On Tuesday, the DFA said that President Marcos had ordered the DFA and other concerned government agencies to ensure the safety of all Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan as tensions rise between Beijing and Taipei.

Foreign Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said during the Laging Handa briefing that contingency measures were already in place in case an evacuation would be needed.“He (President Marcos) has given the general order to always watch out for the safety and welfare of all OFWs, including in Taiwan,” De Vega said.

“Like the DFA statement, we wish to assure our senators and the public that we have a contingency plan, it’s already there. It’s a thick book. It’s in the Manila Economic Cultural Office (Meco) and at the labor offices,” he added.

So far, De Vega said that no OFW had reached out for repatriation to Meco, the representative office of the Philippines in Taiwan that functions as a de facto embassy in the absence of diplomatic relations between Manila and Taipei.

“As far as the Filipinos in Taiwan are concerned, we have not heard of anyone who wants to go home or is worried,” the DFA official noted.

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The government, he said, has been in touch with Philippine community leaders in Taiwan, adding that based on local laws there, all employers must have a plan for their workers in case of hostilities.



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TAGS: China-Taiwan relations, Department of Foreign Affairs, Enrique Manalo, maritime dispute, PH-China Relations, Qin Gang

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