China warns PH to “tread carefully” on Taiwan issue

By: John Eric Mendoza - | February 09,2024 - 09:26 PM


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines— China issued a subtle warning to the Philippines concerning Taiwan, advising Filipino officials to “tread carefully” on the matter of the “red line.”

China made the remark following an order by Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. to raise military presence in Batanes, the Philippines’ northernmost province that is very near Taiwan.

“I want to stress again that the Taiwan question is at the heart of China’s core interests and is a red line and bottom line that must not be crossed,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin at a press conference. Translation was provided by the Chinese embassy to Philippine media.

“Relevant parties in the Philippines need to understand it clearly, tread carefully and don’t play with fire on this (Taiwan) question to avoid being manipulated and eventually hurt,” Wang said.

The Chinese official said being “neighbors”, Manila and Beijing’s relations should be predominated by only “friendly exchanges.”

“A close neighbor can be more helpful than a distant relative,” Wang said.

“Neighbors should get along with each other based on the principle of good-neighborliness, friendship, mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and non-interference in each others’ internal affairs,” he added.

During a visit in Batanes on Tuesday (Feb. 6) , Teodoro called for the development of military structures and ordered the deployment of more troops to Batanes, noting its strategic importance to the Philippines’ external defense.

Batanes’ Mavulis Island and the provincial capital of Basco are also being eyed as venues for this year’s war games between the Philippine and US militaries.

Mavulis, the Philippines’ northernmost island is just 142 kilometers from Cape Eluanbi, the southernmost point of Taiwan.

Also, three new sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and US are also near Taiwan—those in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela..

The Edca sites are inside Philippine military bases where US troops are allowed to rotate and store defense hardware and supplies.

Taiwan is a democratic self-ruled island which China claims to be its province.


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TAGS: Batanes, China, Taiwan

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