SFA Locsin Participates in First Meeting of ASEAN with United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. delivers his intervention on the Philippines' gratitude to the U.S.’ support to maintaining peace, stability and post-pandemic recovery of the region. (Screenshot from the meeting)
PASAY CITY 15 July 2021 – Foreign Affairs Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., along with the other foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), met virtually with the new United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken during the Special ASEAN-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 14 July 2021.
During the meeting, Secretary Locsin emphasized that the solution to the ongoing pandemic is vaccines. He thanked the U.S. for donating its excess vaccines to governments which did not order enough or did not have any means to procure these. He pointed out that global pandemic survival depends on the recovery of the U.S. and China, expounding that, “We all recover or none without the world’s two biggest most competitive economies.”
Secretary Blinken vowed for the U.S. “to get safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible” by providing 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccines to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and contributing 80 million vaccines to other countries, including ASEAN. He pledged the U.S.' commitment to continue providing assistance to ASEAN in addition to more than USD 96 million in the fight against COVID-19, stressing that “None of us is safe until all of us are safe.”
The participants thanked the U.S. for its leadership in the global pandemic efforts, welcomed its support to the COVID-19 ASEAN Recovery Fund (CARF) and Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS), and discussed preparations for post-pandemic recovery, in particular building resilience towards diseases, increasing capacity in public health, and protecting mental health.
The Meeting discussed the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and urged cooperation in digital technology as part of collective efforts towards economic recovery. They also noted that ASEAN-U.S. cooperation must be used to address economic recovery, through the continuation of supply chains, increase in trade and investments - noting that the ASEAN should be the target destination of U.S. businesses.
The ASEAN foreign ministers considered the U.S. as an important strategic partner of ASEAN, discussed shared principles for an open regional architecture – respect for sovereignty and the rule of law, and maintaining ASEAN centrality – and highlighted the need to restart their strategic partnership, noting the minimal engagements between the ASEAN and the U.S. in past years.
The Meeting also raised the situation in Myanmar as a matter of priority and reiterated calls for national dialogue and reconciliation, adding that the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus will return the situation to normalcy. Secretary Locsin emphasized the need to restore the political status quo ante as well as the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected opposition in jail.
Secretary Blinken, on the other hand, expressed U.S. concern over the Myanmar situation, and noted that, “the crisis, if not addressed quickly, will undermine ASEAN’s unity and stability.” He echoed the call of Secretary Locsin to release the political detainees and restore Myanmar’s path to democracy.
Secretary Locsin stated that the Philippines, as the current country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations, is committed to deliver a comprehensive draft of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea for its second reading before turning over the coordinatorship to Myanmar later this year. He thanked the U.S.’ for its open support for the 2016 Arbitral Award and for its clear reaffirmation of the protection of Philippine sovereignty under the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, which will also translate into maintaining peace in the Southeast Asian region.
The U.S. urged Beijing to cease the provocative behavior of the Chinese maritime militia in the South China Sea, reiterated their support for the 2016 Arbitral Award and renounced China’s interpretation and implementation of its Coast Guard Law, including the use of armed forces to enforce its maritime claims.
The Special ASEAN-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was originally slated on 25 May 2021 but was postponed due to technical issues on the U.S. side. END