Statement of the Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines on U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson’s Remarks on EDCA cooperation and South China Sea
2023-03-12 11:17

Q: U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson recently gave an interview to GMA TV. When asked to comment on the fact that at least 2 governors from Cagayan and Isabela expressed apprehension about having their provinces used as EDCA sites possibly because they say that these sites could be military targets in some scenarios in the Taiwan strait, Ambassador Carlson said that those sites would not only help the provincial and local authorities to enhance their ability to defend themselves but to grow their economy. When asked about the U.S.-Philippine joint patrols in the South China Sea, she said that such activities will be one important component of making sure that the waterways are free and open. What’s the comment from the Chinese Embassy?

A: We noted that intense debates have been going on recently in the Philippines about the four additional military sites to which the U.S. forces would have access under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The governors of Cagayan and Isabela are not the only ones who publicly expressed reservation to having their provinces used as EDCA sites. Former President Duterte also questioned the merits of having additional EDCA bases open to the US in an interview with SMNI TV. The Philippine Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing, in which quite some Senators, local offcials and legal experts raised concerns about new EDCA sites. A number of think-tanks and scholars as well as NGOs published articles, held forums or even took to the street to voice their opposition. People are asking the Philippine government to disclose the locations of the new EDCA sites. Those visionary people all asked the soul-searching questions: If the new sites are located in Cagayan and Isabela, which are close to Taiwan, does the U.S. really intend to help the Philippines in disaster relief with these EDCA sites? And is it really in the national interest of the Philippines to get dragged by the US to interfere in the Taiwan question?

Peace and development remain the theme of this era and the call of peoples around the world. However, the U.S., to secure its hegemony and selfish geopolitical interests and out of the cold-war mentality, keeps upgrading military cooperation with the Philippines by adding EDCA bases and military deployment in this country. Whereas the U.S. claims that such cooperation is intended to help the disaster relief efforts of the Philippines and some Americans even tout the EDCA sites as driver of local economy, it is plain and simple that those moves are part of the U.S. efforts to encirle and contain China through its military alliance with this country. To bundle the Philippines into the chariots of geopolitical strife will seriously harm Philippine national interests and endanger regional peace and stability. On the South China Sea issue, there is no problem of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. When talking about free and open waterways, what the U.S. has in its mind is actually the freedom of rampage of its warships in the South China Sea. The U.S. military has been coming all the way from the other side of the Pacific to stir up trouble in the South China Sea and ganging up with its allies from other parts of the world to flex muscle in the South China Sea. By doing these, the U.S. has not only heightened tension, driven wedge between China and the Philippines, but also has disturbed and upset the joint effort of countries in this region to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Now that China and the Philippines, among other countries of the region, are at a critical juncture of post-COVID recovery, we should keep to the right track of maintaining good-neighbourliness and attaining mutual benefit rather than getting distracted by forces who are fanning the flame and driving a wedge between us, even less inviting a bully into our community. We need to focus on cooperation and development, and truly safeguard, promote and build peace, stability, prosperity of our region and bring more tangible benefits to people of our two countries.

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