By Roy Mabasa
The United States is fully committed to defend the Philippines in the event of a foreign attack, Ambassador Sung Kim said on Wednesday.
“We are fully committed to our alliance with the Philippines. There is absolutely no ambiguity about our commitment to defend the Philippines should a foreign force attack the Philippines,” Kim said in a television interview.
While stating that the US is not a claimant in the South China Sea row, Kim said they “care very deeply about how the dispute should be resolved.”
“The dispute should be resolved peacefully and should be done according to international law and practices. So this is why we have efforts to come out with a strong set of principles, code of conduct to govern how we settle this dispute,” he said.
The US ambassador to the Philippines emphasized that the role and position of the US government regarding the South China Sea issue has not changed, as they will continue to promote and protect international rights such as freedom of navigation and freedom of flight.
“This is not solely for the US but good for everybody. So much trade goes through… if we don’t have freedom of navigation we will all suffer. So we are (conducting) freedom of navigation exercises to make sure we promote those rights,” the American envoy pointed out.
He explained that the US role now, which is different from those of the claimants, is to “making sure to protect those important international rights.”
“We will continue to move a lot of goods in that area and we will continue to conduct our operations to protect those rights,” Kim said.
Furthermore, Kim also dismissed insinuation that the United States’ policy shift in the Asia-Pacific region would lead to China domination.
“We are not going anywhere. We’re gonna remain engaged in all aspects of trade, we’re not retreating. We’re fully committed to this region. That said, it’s no secret that China is continuing to expand,” he said.
According to Kim, the challenge for America now is how to work with a growing expanding China so that the whole region can benefit from a constructive partnership with Beijing.
“So I don’t think it’s accurate we’re retreating and giving space to China,” he said.