MANILA — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said recently the United States and China need to sit down and have a “heart-to-heart” talk, following the close encounter between their warships near the Spratlys.
On September 30, the destroyer USS Decatur sailed near a Chinese artificial island at the Kalayaan Island Group.
The US Navy clarified that the vessel was holding a freedom of navigation operation when a Chinese destroyer confronted it in an “unsafe” and extremely close range.
Reacting to this, Cayetano said there should be “a heart-to-heart talk” between regional and non-regional players and between the two countries.
He stressed that while President Rodrigo Duterte adheres to his “friends to all, enemy to none,” policy, there are “rivalries,” particularly among major powers.
“China has a different stand regarding the South China Sea, the US has a different stand, and the Philippines has a different stand. And the dynamics of superpowers are different from that of the middle powers or countries with soft power,” he said.
Cayetano warned that similar arguments, or “irritants” as he described them, will persist unless the US and China talk.
He also aired the government’s concerns about incidents occurring within the contested waters, noting that any direct confrontation between the two great powers will mean disturbance in the whole region.
“We will continue to see these irritants or arguments until the US and China sit down and regional players sit down,” Cayetano said. (PNA)