- The Washington Times
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin said Wednesday his country is calling on the U.S. to beef up its military presence in Asia amid surging tensions between the U.S. and China.

His comments come as disputes over national security, technology, human rights and military power between Washington and Beijing rattle the relationship between the two global powers.

The South China Sea, in particular, has been at the center of continued disputes between the U.S. and China, with Beijing claiming much of the strategically vital area as its own territory.

The U.S. disputes those claims and has routinely held freedom of navigation exercises in the region.

“We have a balance-of-power situation,” Mr. Locsin told ANC News Channel, as quoted by Reuters. “We need the U.S. presence in Asia.”

In June, the Philippines paused its efforts to end a security pact with the U.S. that allowed American troops to train in the country.

The pact, that will remain active until the end of the year, authorizes the entry of a significant number of U.S. forces and military vessels to the Philippines for training with local troops.

Between 2016 to 2019, the U.S. provided more than $550 million in security assistance to the country. The U.S. has also provided intelligence, training and aid to Filipino forces including assisting in deterrence efforts in disputes with neighboring countries in the South China Sea.

“I was very firm about protecting what was ours,” Mr. Locsin said. “I was very firm about never bending a knee to China.”

Also Wednesday, Vietnam claimed China violated its sovereignty after conducting military drills in a contested area in the South China Sea.

China has declared ownership of the bulk of the disputed waters, pointing to historic maps, but Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim ownership to parts of the South China Sea.

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