China should not hold hostage talks on global issues: US Secretary of State

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said China should not negotiate on important global issues, such as being “hostage” to the climate crisis, after Beijing cut ties with Washington in response to 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 newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other senior officials as relations between Washington and Beijing plummeted to their worst levels in years.

Ms. Pelosi’s trip to the self-ruled island has angered China, which says Taiwan is its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.

On Thursday, China began military exercises off the coast of Taiwan, and on Friday cut off contact with the US on vital issues, including military issues and important climate cooperation, as a US punishment for Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan despite harsh warnings from China.

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A military fighter jet flies over the Taiwan Strait as seen from the 68 nautical mile scenic spot, the closest point of mainland China to the island of Taiwan. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

“We should not be held hostage to cooperation on issues of global interest because of disagreements between our two countries,” Mr. Blinken said.

“Others rightly expect us to continue to work on issues that are important to the lives and livelihoods of their people, as well as our own.”

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

“The world’s largest source of carbon emissions is currently refusing to participate in the fight against the climate crisis,” Mr. Blinken said, adding that China’s launch of ballistic missiles that landed in the waters surrounding Taiwan was dangerous and destabilizing.

“What is happening with 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 almost half of the world’s container fleet and almost 90% of the world’s largest ships pass through this waterway. .

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

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US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrives for a meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at Malacañang Palace in Manila. (Andrew Harnick, Pool/AP)

“We are committed to de-escalating these tensions, and we believe dialogues are a very important element of that,” he said, adding that the US “will keep our channels of communication with China open to avoid escalating misunderstandings or misunderstandings.” .

Mr. Blinken is the highest-ranking US official to visit the Philippines since Mr. Marcos Jr. took office on June 30 after a landslide election victory.

During his brief meeting with Mr. Blinken, Mr. Marcos Jr. mentioned that he was surprised by the turn of events surrounding Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week.

“I don’t think, to be completely frank, I don’t think it raised the heat, it just showed how heated this conflict was,” Mr. Marcos Jr. said based on a transcript released by the presidential palace.

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

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

Mr. Blinken reaffirmed Mr. Marcos Jr. Washington’s commitment to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines and “working with you to solve common problems.”

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Anthony Blinken with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr at Malacañang Palace (Andrew Harnick, Pool/AP)

“Our relationship is quite extraordinary because it’s really based on friendship, it’s also forged on partnership and it’s strengthened by the fact that it’s an alliance,” Mr. Blinken said.

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

During these meetings, ASEAN foreign ministers called for “maximum restraint” as China conducts military exercises around Taiwan and retaliates against the US, fearing that the situation “could destabilize the region and could ultimately lead to miscalculations, serious confrontations, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences. among the major powers.

Shortly before Ms. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, when rumors surfaced that her plane might stop briefly at the former Clark Air Force Base north of Manila to refuel, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said in a television interview that he hoped “the Philippine The side will strictly abide by the One China principle and prudently handle all issues related to Taiwan, so as to ensure the healthy and sustainable development of Sino-Philippine relations.”

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Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, left, and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday (Taiwan’s presidential office via AP)

Mr. Huang’s remarks drew sharp criticism from opposition senator Risa Hontiveros, who said that “the ambassador should not rant about such a policy, especially since his country stubbornly and steadfastly refuses to recognize the decision of the international arbitration court, ignores and tramples on international law in the West Philippine Sea when it is in her interest to do so.”

Ms. Hontiveros was referring to a 2016 arbitration award in a Philippine complaint that invalidated China’s vast territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.

She used the Philippine name for the disputed waters.

China dismissed the decision, which was hailed by the US and Western allies, as a sham and continues to ignore it.