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Imee Marcos: Do not make us choose between US and China


Imee Marcos: Do not make us choose between US and China

“Do not make us choose between the United States and China.”

This was the sentiment of Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chairperson Senator Imee Marcos last week as she highlighted the direction the Philippines should take in terms of relations with the US and China, during a roundtable forum in Washington, DC.

Marcos spoke mostly to an American assembly at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), participated by leading think tanks, embassies, companies, and universities.

Others who attended are the federal US Institute for Peace, the US-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Business Council, the Center for a New American Security, and the Asia Foundation.

Marcos said the Philippines and its Southeast Asian neighbors are calling for a “rational approach” in relations with the US and China to prevent a repeat of the “melodrama” of the Cold War.

The lawmaker made the remark as she unveiled at the forum the seven-point plan which she envisions for the Philippines’ foreign policy regime and future legislation.

According to Marcos, the plan's top item is to “re-examine" rather than revise the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement and how the language of both accords is to be implemented. The plan also aims to assess the delivery of development aid as promised in the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

The seven-point plan also calls for increased military assistance and support for local defense contractors.

With the recent formation of multilateral defense arrangements such as the AUKUS which is a security alliance forged by Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and the QUAD which is the alliance of Japan, Australia, the United States and India, the plan also calls for a more in-depth study of their consequences for the Philippines and existing regional groupings.

The foreign policy plan also seeks new trade opportunities in deep-sea fishing and in the production and export of Philippine metals and semiconductor chips via a “Green Metals Initiative” and cooperation under the US’s CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.

Marcos thanked USAID and the US-Philippines Society for constantly assisting  in disaster relief and recovery, as she sought improvements in social protection and public safety nets.

The senator also encouraged professional exchanges, especially of health care workers, teachers and academics. This she said would lead to better training, a transfer of know-how, and potential new jobs.

Moreover, Marcos affirmed the strong alliance between the Philippines and the US.

However, she said that the Philippines-US alliance should not inhibit engagement with China. The proposed plan hopes to expand engagement with China through confidence-building measures, joint development, and finalizing a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

During President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and US President Joe Biden's meeting earlier on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the two leaders discussed the state of the global economy and how it is impacting the Philippines; the South China Sea; the security relationship between the US and the Philippines; and “the full breadth of issues in the alliance," according to a senior White House official. —Mel Matthew Doctor/KG, GMA News

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