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PH participation in Trilateral Summit "sovereign choice"; not targeting any country – DFA
PH participation in Trilateral Summit "sovereign choice"; not targeting any country – DFA
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PH participation in Trilateral Summit "sovereign choice"; not targeting any country – DFA
by Karen Ow-Yong19 April 2024
Photo courtesy of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. FB account

MANILA – The Philippine Government believes that the historical Trilateral Summit held last April 11, 2024 and attended by the Philippines, the United States and Japan, is an opportunity to build upon the robust bilateral relations between the three States, aside from expanding economic cooperation in support of the Philippines’ development goals and a reaffirmation of the commitment to pursue the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.

This is the response released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to China’s statement opposing what it calls “block politics”, saying that such actions by relevant countries are “stoking and driving up tensions” and “harming other countries’ strategic security and interests.”

According to the DFA, it is the “sovereign choice and decision” of the Philippines to strengthen the alliance with the United States and its strategic partnership with Japan, in accordance with the national interests of the country and in line with the independent foreign policy of the current administration.

The DFA added that such actions by the Philippines are “in line with international law and complement our commitments in other regional and multilateral forums.”

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The DFA further states that “the trilateral cooperation is a partnership and a cooperative framework for the promotion of peace, stability and economic prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.”

It is an admirable aspiration that should not be considered a threat by any peace-loving country, the DFA adds.

The statement stressed that “the trilateral initiative responds to the Philippines' development needs, in line with President [Ferdinand] Marcos' socioeconomic agenda and economic diplomacy objectives.”

The DFA added that “It will deliver valuable capacity-building support for priority economic sectors, including infrastructure, and critical and emerging technologies.

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The trilateral initiative is another platform as well to further promote regional peace and security, it is only reasonable and responsible that the participants discuss regional security issues of mutual concern, challenges to the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes, the DFA explains.

In the case of the South China Sea, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the final and legally-binding 2016 Arbitral Award provide definitive lawful basis for the determination of the sovereign rights and jurisdiction within the Philippines' maritime entitlements, the DFA emphasized.

On the part of China, it said that it strongly opposes what it calls “exclusive groupings in this region” and should not introduce “bloc confrontation” and engage in a trilateral cooperation “at the expense of other countries’ interests.

In a statement from Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning, she reiterated its claim that it is clear that the trilateral summit and cooperation is aimed at China, as stated in the trilateral statement.

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“What else could it be if it’s not a smear and attack against China?” Mao said.

With this, the DFA advised China to “reflect upon its own actions in the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea. It is China's excessive maritime claims and aggressive behavior, including its militarization of reclaimed features, that are undermining regional peace and stability and raising tensions.”

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