MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, in a phone call, discussed their concerns over the presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the US State Department said Friday.
“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. #FriendsPartnersAllies,” Blinken said on Twitter.
The phone conversation between Locsin and Blinken follows reports on alleged Chinese “militia boats” scattered within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In a separate statement, US State Department Ned Price said that Blinken also reaffirmed the applicability of the 1951 US-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 Whitsin 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.
Price was referring to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, including parts that are within the Philippines EEZ.
Beijing has ignored the 2016 international tribunal decision.
Apart from the Philippines and China, other countries competing for territorial claims in the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Aside from the renewed tensions in the West Philippine Sea, Locsin said they also tackled the string of anti-Asian hate and violence in the United States.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Romualdez earlier said that Washington has been taking steps to curb the anti-Asian attacks, including the setting up of hotlines and the deployment of more law enforces in areas with a large population of Asian Americans. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)