No change in Indo-Pacific stance under Trump presidency

The United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy will unlikely change should Donald Trump win in the presidential race, the Philippines’ long-time ambassador to Washington said.

Jose Manuel Romualdez in a speech said he was in touch with one of Trump’s close advisers who indicated to him the continuation of its current stance in the region.The Philippines will not let up in asserting its maritime claims, he said, as tensions in the South China Sea continue to simmer, with Beijing vehemently opposed to what it considers incursions by Philippine vessels into what it considers its waters.

The “aggression” we are now facing is very real, Romualdez said, adding that the Philippines hopes China will see the value of continuing economic activity between them while trying to peacefully resolve their issues.

In an interview with Reuters last week, Romualdez, said the Philippines was closely watching the US presidential race but would view any change in leadership as an opportunity to renew the strengthening alliance between the two countries.

Their security engagements have stepped up considerably under US President Joe Biden and Marcos, with both leaders keen to counter what they see as China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea and near Taiwan.

Biden is likely to face Trump, the Republican frontrunner to be the party’s presidential candidate, in a rematch in November’s presidential election.

Under Marcos, the Philippines has nearly doubled the number of its bases accessible to US forces.

A 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty binding them to defend each other in the event of attack and Marcos last year succeeded in pushing Washington to make clear the extent of that security commitment.

Romualdez on Tuesday said it was possible there could be one major “accident” in the South China Sea that could lead to that treaty being invoked, but hoped that would never happen. — Reuters

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