Blinken: China should not have global worries about “hostage”


Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, meets with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines on Saturday, August 6, 2022. Blinken is on a 10-day tour of Cambodia, the Philippines, South Africa, Congo, and Rwanda. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)


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

Blinken was speaking at an online news conference with his Filipino counterpart in Manila after meeting with President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other top officials, while relations between Washington and Beijing plummeted to their worst level in years.

Pelosi’s trip to the self-governing island angered China, which claims Taiwan as its territory to be annexed by force if necessary. China began military exercises off the coast of Taiwan on Thursday and cut ties with the US on key issues, including military affairs and key climate cooperation, on Friday as punishment for Pelosi’s visit.

“We must not hold cooperation on matters of global importance hostage to 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.”

He cited cooperation on climate change as a key area where China has cut ties that “don’t punish the United States — they punish the world.”

“The world’s largest producer of carbon now refuses to get involved in the fight against the climate crisis,” Blinken said, adding that China’s launch of ballistic missiles that landed in the waters around Taiwan was a dangerous and destabilizing act.

“What happens to the Taiwan Strait affects the entire region. In many ways, this affects the whole world because the strait, like the South China Sea, is a critical waterway,” he said, noting that nearly half of the world’s container fleet and nearly 90% of the world’s largest ships have crossed the waterway this year. .

China has closed “channels between soldiers that are critical to avoiding miscommunication and crisis avoidance, as well as cooperation on transnational crime and counter-narcotics that helps protect people in the United States, China and elsewhere,” he said.

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

“We are working to reduce these tensions and we think that dialogues are a very important element of that,” he said, adding that the United States “will keep our channels of communication with China open in order to avoid escalating misunderstandings or miscommunications.”

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 a brief meeting with Blinken, Marcos Jr. mentioned that he was surprised by developments surrounding Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week.

“It just showed — how intense this conflict was,” Marcos Jr. said. based on a transcript released by the presidential palace.

“This just proves how unstable the international diplomatic scene is not only in the region,” he added.

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

Blinken reiterated Washington’s commitment to the 1951 mutual defense treaty with the Philippines and “cooperation with you in common challenges.”

Blinken told reporters that he also discussed with Marcos Jr. the strengthening of democracy and the US commitment to work with the Philippines to defend the rule of law, protect human rights, freedom of expression and protect civil society groups “that 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 would “invoke US mutual defense commitments”.

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

ASEAN foreign ministers called for “maximum restraint” as China conducted military exercises around Taiwan and took action against the US, fearing the situation “could destabilize the region and could eventually lead to miscalculations, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences between great powers.”

In Manila, Blinken visited a vaccination clinic, met with groups helping to fight the coronavirus outbreak and went to a clean energy fair. He also met with US Embassy staff before flying out on Saturday night.

Just before Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, amid speculation 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 televised interview that he hoped that “the Philippine side will strictly adhere to the one-China principle and prudently handle all Taiwan-related issues to ensure the solid and steady development of China-Philippines relations.”

Huang’s remarks drew sharp criticism from opposition senator Riso Hontiveros, who said “the ambassador should not pontificate on such a policy, especially given that his country stubbornly and persistently refuses to recognize the decision of the International Court of Arbitration and ignores and disregards international law in the West Philippine Sea when it suits its interests.’

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

China dismissed the ruling, which was welcomed by the US and Western allies, as a sham and continues to defy it.


Associated Press reporters Andrew Harnik and Kiko Rosario in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

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