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China should not hold global concerns ‘hostage’

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that China should not hold talks on major global issues such as the “hostage” climate crisis, after Beijing cut ties with Washington in retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week.

Blinken spoke at an online press conference with his Filipino counterpart in Manila after meeting with President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other senior officials, as relations between Washington and Beijing fell to their worst level in years.

Pelosi’s trip to the self-ruled island angered China, which claims Taiwan as its territory to annex by force if necessary. China launched military exercises off the coast of Taiwan on Thursday and on Friday cut ties with the US on vital issues, including military affairs and crucial climate cooperation, in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit.

“We must not hold cooperation on issues of global interest hostage because of the differences between our two countries,” Blinken said. “Others rightly expect us to continue working on issues that matter to their people’s lives and livelihoods as well as ours.”

FILE - In this video image, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, center, arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, Aug. 2, 2022. (Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)

FILE – In this video image, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, center, arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, Aug. 2, 2022. (Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)

He cited cooperation on climate change as a key area where China cut ties that “do not punish the United States, but punish the world.”

“The world’s largest carbon emitter is now refusing to engage in combating the climate crisis,” Blinken said, adding that China’s firing of ballistic missiles that landed in the waters around Taiwan was a dangerous and destabilizing action.

“What happens to the Taiwan Strait affects the whole region. In many ways it affects the whole world because the strait, like the South China Sea, is a critical waterway,” he said, noting that nearly half of the global fleet of containers and nearly 90% of the world’s largest ships transit through the waterway.

China banned “military-to-military channels, which are vital to avoiding miscommunication and crisis avoidance, but also cooperation on transnational crimes and counter-narcotics, which help keep people in the United States, China and beyond safe.” “, he said.

FILE - Smoke trails from shells fired by the Chinese military are seen in the sky as tourists look out from Pingtan Island, one of the closest points to mainland China from Taiwan, in Fujian province on August 4, 2022.

FILE – Smoke trails from shells fired by the Chinese military are seen in the sky as tourists look out from Pingtan Island, one of the closest points to mainland China from Taiwan, in Fujian province on August 4, 2022.

Despite China’s actions, Blinken said he told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday in Cambodia, where they attended an annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, that the US does not want to escalate the situation.

“We seek to de-escalate those tensions and we think dialogues are a very important element of that,” he said, adding that the US would “keep our channels of communication with China open with the goal of avoiding escalating misunderstandings.” or miscommunication.”

Blinken is the highest-ranking US official to visit the Philippines since Marcos Jr. took office on June 30, after a landslide election victory. In his brief encounter with Blinken, Marcos Jr. mentioned that he was surprised by the turn of events regarding Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week.

“It just showed the intensity of that conflict,” Marcos Jr. said. based on a transcript released by the presidential palace.

“It just shows how volatile the international diplomatic scene is not only in the region,” he added.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.  at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, August.  6, 2022.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, August. 6, 2022.

Marcos Jr. praised the vital relationship between Manila and Washington, which are treaty allies, and US aid to the Philippines over the years.

Blinken reiterated Washington’s commitment to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines and “to work with you on common challenges.”

Blinken told reporters that he also discussed with Marcos Jr. strengthening democracy and the US commitment to work with the Philippines to protect the rule of law, protect human rights, freedom of expression and protect civil society groups, “which are critical to our alliance.”

Describing the Philippines as “an irreplaceable friend,” he said he reiterated to the president that an armed attack on Philippine forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea “will invoke US mutual defense commitments.”

Blinken arrived Friday evening in Manila after attending ASEAN meetings in Cambodia, where he was joined by his Chinese and Russian counterparts.

ASEAN foreign ministers called for “maximum restraint” as China staged military exercises around Taiwan and moved against the US, fearing the situation “could destabilize the region and ultimately lead to miscalculations, serious confrontations, open and unpredictable consequences between the great powers”.

In Manila, Blinken was also scheduled to visit a vaccination clinic and meet with groups helping to fight the coronavirus outbreak, then go to a clean energy fair and meet US Embassy staff before flying out on Saturday in the evening.

Shortly before Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, as speculation grew that her plane might make a brief stop at the former US Clark Air Force Base north of Manila for refueling, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said in a television interview that hoped that “the Philippine side would strictly adhere to the one-China principle and handle all issues related to Taiwan prudently to ensure the sound and stable development of China-Philippines relations.”

Huang’s remarks drew a sharp rebuke from opposition Philippine senator Risa Hontiveros, who said “the ambassador should not pontificate on such policies, especially given that his country stubbornly and persistently refuses to recognize a decision by awarded by an international arbitral tribunal and ignores and disregards international”. law in the West Philippine Sea when it suits its interest.”

Hontiveros was referring to a 2016 arbitration award on a Philippine complaint that invalidated China’s vast territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea. She used the name Philippines for the disputed waters.

China has dismissed that decision, which was welcomed by the US and Western allies, as a fraud and continues to oppose it.

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