Robert O'Brien reaffirms U.S. 'tough on China' approach

26 Novembre, 2020, 01:44 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • US provides missiles, renews pledge to defend Philippines

O'Brien finished up the trip on November 23 in the Philippines, where he handed over a clutch of new weaponry created to help the government combat Islamic State group-affiliated militants.

O'Brien expressed condolences to the Philippines after back-to-back typhoons left a trail of death and devastation in the country and outlined USA help to the country battle the coronavirus pandemic.

O'Brien has represented Trump in a recent online summit between the USA and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an expanded East Asia summit of heads of state attended by China and Russian Federation that was also held by video and hosted by Vietnam. "This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance".

"In recent years, to safeguard its regional and global hegemony, the U.S. has regarded itself as "patron" and "judge" of regional countries and directly intervened in the South China Sea and other issues", the statement said.

O'Brien paid a visit there as part of a larger trip to Vietnam and the Philippines, two places which share concerns with the USA about China's rising power and military force.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., responded by hailing the US as "the best and undisputed military power in the world".

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O'Brien also welcomed Duterte's recent decision to extend the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which governs the deployment of USA personnel on Philippine soil. They don't belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people.

"That the tension in the South China Sea will continue to rise as China will continue to accuse the US and other nations of provocation and destabilisation. that the West is trying to contain the rise of China".

"The oil, gas, minerals, fisheries within the exclusive economic zone in the Philippines belong to your country".

The statement comes just hours after the Chinese embassy in Hanoi warned the United States official of escalating tensions further on issues such as the South China Sea and Mekong River, two disputed regions in Southeast Asia.

The status of the VFA will be a pressing concern for the Biden administration once it takes office in January, and securing its extension will be a priority. Indeed, this tension - between dueling US concerns about rights abuses and the need to keep the alliance on an even keel - is likely to last until the end of Duterte's term in mid-2022 - and possibly beyond, if one of his allies runs and is victorious at the next presidential election.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July asserted the stand of the US that Beijing's claims in the South China Sea are "completely unlawful" and accuses the Asian powerhouse of "bullying to control them".

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