The Chinese Embassy in Manila changed its tune Sunday, April 16, on the remarks made by Ambassador Huang Xilian regarding the fate of overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan in light of the deepening Philippine-US military ties have been misquoted or misinterpreted .

The embassy claimed that the ambassador’s speech at the 8th Manila Forum for China-Philippines Relations had been taken “out of context”.

“Unfortunately some misquoted or misinterpreted Ambassador Huang’s remarks or simply took part of the Ambassador’s words out of context. In order to set the record straight, the following is the original text of the speech http://ph.china-embassy.gov.cn/…/t20230416_11060060.htm the embassy said, providing links to an English and Mandarin translation of Huang’s Speech.

During the forum, Huang warned that the four new sites that US military forces would have access to under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) would be used to support Taiwan’s bid for independence, and urged the Philippines to oppose “Taiwan independence” unequivocally.

“The Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose “Taiwan independence” rather than stoking the fire by offering the US access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs,” he said.

Palawan former Governor and incumbent 2nd District Rep. Jose Chaves Alvarez was earlier quoted that some “friends” in the Chinese Embassy in Manila have expressed alarm over the possibility of the US Forces to use the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement to beef up their capabilities in the region, particularly by storing military equipment near the disputed waters.

Meanwhile, the he Department of National Defense clarified in a statement that EDCA is geared towards the improvement of Philippines’ defense capabilities “in the midst of the complex regional security landscape” 

“The implementation of EDCA is not directed against any country and is in line with our efforts to modernize our alliance and enable collective defense and peace, promote our national interest, protect our national sovereignty, ensure the livelihood and welfare of our fisherfolk and communities, and enhance our capability to respond to emergencies and disasters, as well as provide humanitarian assistance,” said DND spokesperson Arsenio Andalong.

National Security Council (NSC) echoed the DND in a separate statement that the Philippines does not want to meddle in the Taiwan Strait issue, and that the country has diplomatic relations with China under its “One China Policy.”

“The Philippines is primarily concerned about improving its defense capability, modernizing our equipment and assets and developing our infrastructure,” said National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malay.

Under EDCA, US troops were granted access to US-PH agreed military facilities in the country.

Among the 5 sites earlier identified were Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City. 

Malacanang earlier announced the addition of 4 more locations including Balabac Island in Palawan and Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta Ana, Cagayan; Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo, Cagayan; and Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela.

3 out of the 9 EDCA sites face Taiwan while 2 are positioned near the South China Sea.