Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has welcomed Australia’s decision to establish an enhanced security partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom.
Locsin was referring to the nuclear submarine deal under the Australia-United Kingdom-United States Enhanced Trilateral Security Partnership being criticized heavily by France.
Announced on 16 September, the deal was described by French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian as a “stab in the back.” France has recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia in protest of the pact.
“This trilateral security partnership would be beneficial in the long term,” Locsin said, adding that members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may benefit from the submarine program.
He said ASEAN countries do not possess the military might to maintain peace and security in Southeast Asia that may be served by the deal.
“The Philippines aspires for the South China Sea to remain a sea of peace, security, stability, and prosperity,” Locsin said.
“We are acutely aware of great power dynamics. With a sharp eye, we will engage in practical and mutually beneficial cooperation aligned with the priority areas of the outlook.”
Still, another ASEAN country, Malaysia, warned the submarine program may lead to the escalation of the arms race in the region and could spark conflict at West Philippine Sea.
Indonesia, too, has expressed “deep concern” over Australia’s military build-up.