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17 Jan, 2024 10:12

China warns Philippines not to ‘play with fire’

Manila has stirred Beijing’s anger with its remarks on the election in Taiwan
China warns Philippines not to ‘play with fire’

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has rebuked Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. after he congratulated Taiwan on the election of Lai Ching-te as the new leader of the island, saying his comments “gravely violate the One-China principle.”

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday, Marcos said he was looking forward to “close collaboration, strengthening mutual interests, fostering peace, and ensuring prosperity for our peoples” following Lai’s election last Saturday.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Marcos’ comments run counter to the diplomatic commitments made by Manila to Beijing and interfere in China’s internal affairs.

“China strongly deplores and firmly opposes this and has immediately lodged strong representations to the Philippines side,” she stated, adding that Philippines Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz was summoned by the ministry to be issued a formal complaint.

“We would like to make it clear to the Philippines that it should refrain from playing with fire on the Taiwan question,” Mao said, advising Marcos to “develop a proper understanding of the ins and outs of the Taiwan question and come to a right conclusion.”

Chinese nationalist forces retreated from the mainland to Taiwan during the civil war of the 1940s. In the decades since, the island has remained de facto autonomous with US assistance, but most nations of the world have switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The Chinese government seeks peaceful reunification with the island, which it claims sovereignty over, and rebukes any attempt by third parties to treat it as anything other than part of China.

The Philippines Foreign Ministry downplayed the president’s post on Tuesday, saying it was meant to recognize “mutual interests” with Taiwan, including those stemming from the presence of the 200,000 Filipino workers on the island. Marcos’ office told Reuters that he does not challenge the One-China policy.

Formal congratulations were extended to Taiwan on the election by the US and many of its allies, which nevertheless consider Beijing the sole representative of the Chinese people.

The Chinese government has accused Washington of encouraging separatism with its actions.