China should not ‘hostage’ talks on global concerns: US Secretary of State

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said China should not hold talks on important global matters such as the climate crisis “hostage”, as Beijing cut contact with Washington in retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week. Had given.

Blinken spoke at an online news conference with his Philippine counterpart in Manila after meeting newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other top officials, as relations between Washington and Beijing fell to their worst level in years.

Ms Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island angered China, which claims Taiwan as its territory that would be annexed by force if necessary.

China began military drills off the coast of Taiwan on Thursday and cut off contact with the US on important issues, including military matters and critical climate cooperation, as a punishment against the US for Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan despite dire warnings from China on Friday. Gave.

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

“We should not co-operate hostage in matters of global concern because of the differences between our two countries,” Blinken said.

“Others are expecting us to continue working on issues that are important to the lives and livelihoods of their people as well as our own.”

He cited cooperation on climate change as a key area where China cut off links that “doesn’t punish the United States – it punishes the world”.

“The world’s biggest carbon emitter is now refusing to address the climate crisis,” Blinken said. He said the firing of China’s ballistic missiles into the waters around Taiwan was a dangerous and destabilizing action.

“What happens to the Taiwan Strait affects the entire region. In many ways it affects the whole world because the strait, like the South China Sea, is an important waterway,” he said, noting that nearly half of the global container fleet and about 90% of the world’s largest ships pass through the waterway. Huh.

Despite China’s actions, Blinken said he told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday in Cambodia, where he 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 Antony Blinken arrives for a meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at Malkanang Palace in Manila (Andrew Harnick, Poole/AP)

“We want to de-escalate those tensions and we think dialogue is a very important element of that,” he said, adding that the US “will keep our channels of communication open with China with the intention of avoiding misunderstanding or miscommunication.” “. ,

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

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

“I don’t think, to be completely clear, I don’t think it increased the intensity, it just demonstrated – how has the intensity of that conflict been,” Mr. Marcos Jr. said based on a transcript released by Rashtrapati Bhavan. .

“It shows how unstable the international diplomatic landscape is not only in the region,” he said.

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

Mr. Blinken reiterated Mr. Marcos Jr. Washington’s 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines and his commitment to “work with you on shared challenges”.

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Antony Blinken with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr at Malakang Palace (Andrew Harnick, Poole/AP)

“Our relationship is quite extraordinary because it is truly founded in friendship, it is forged as well as in partnership and it is strengthened by the fact that it is an alliance,” Blinken said.

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

During those meetings, ASEAN foreign ministers called for “maximum restraint” as China conducted war drills around Taiwan and retaliated against the US, fearing it “could destabilize the region and ultimately lead to miscalculations, There can be serious conflicts, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences between the major powers”.

Shortly before Ms Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, when there was speculation that her plane might stop briefly to refuel at the former US Clark Air Force Base north of Manila, Chinese ambassador Huang Zilian said in a TV interview. that he hopes that “the Philippine side will strictly abide by it. To ensure the solid and stable development of China-Philippines relations by the One-China principle and to handle all issues related to Taiwan intelligently.

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

Mr Huang’s remarks drew sharp rebuke from opposition senator Risa Hontiveros, who said “the ambassador should not heed such policies, especially given that his country refuses to obey a ruling by an international arbitral court.” and ignores and violates international law in the West Philippine Sea when it is in its best interest”.

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

He used the name Philippine for the disputed waters.

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