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Pakistan, Philippines Threaten to Leave U.S. for Stronger China/Russia Ties

Pakistan and the Philippines have threatened to break ties with the United States and forge a closer relationship with Russia and China, accusing America of ignoring their concerns.

In commenting on their resentment towards the U.S., Pakistan characterized the United States as a “declining” world power and the Philippines said America has “failed” them.

One of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s diplomats has reportedly warned that their country would cozy up to China and Russia if the United States fails to consider its position on the increasingly worsening Pak-India conflict in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

“[The] US is no longer a world power. It is a declining power. Forget about it,” Mushahid Hussain Syed, the Pakistani PM’s special envoy to Kashmir, said at an Oct. 5 discussion at the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank.

China provides more weapons to Pakistan than to any other country in the world, and it also builds Pakistan’s nuclear reactors, a testament to their deep relationship.

“With no takers for Pakistan’s Kashmir policy, Syed said China is now an important factor in South Asia and described Beijing as part of what he termed as Greater South Asia,” notes the Hindustan Times.

“There has been slow and steady building of relationship between Moscow and Islamabad,” also said Syed, referring to the joint military exercise between Pakistan and Russia.

Syed also reportedly indicated that “the Russian government has for the first time agreed to sell arms to Pakistan and the US should take note of this changing regional alignment.”

India has been trying to deepen its military cooperation with both the United States and its neighbor China as clashes along the border that divides the Pakistani and Indian region of Kashmir have escalated.

Meanwhile, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s top diplomat has defended his leader’s threats to move away from its relationship with the United States.

“America has failed us. This is at the core message of [Duterte] to the American people and the world,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said in a statement, reports Philippine Star.

Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for Duterte, said that the president only made the statement about potentially breaking away from the United States in a desire to “express the independence of the Philippines.”

“It’s not a definite yes, it’s not a definite no. He said he might,” Abella told reporters when asked what the president meant when he mentioned cutting ties with the U.S.

More than 3,600 people have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte was inaugurated as president and initiated his war on drugs and crime.

The White House has denounced the drug-war related deaths as extrajudicial killings, prompting Duterte to insult President Barack Obama.

In late September, Duterte said he has decided to “cross the Rubicon” in his ties with the United States and will open trade alliances and offer long-term land leases to “the other side of the ideological barrier,” China and Russia.

Duterte did note he is not seeking to establish a military relationship with China and Russia.

Nevertheless, the Filipino leader said that he told Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during a meeting last month, “I would need your help in everything — trade, commerce — and I will open up.”

He noted that the problem was that Manila’s mutual defense treaty with Washington does not guarantee that the U.S. will come to the Philippines’ defense if it is attacked given that the American President would need Congress’ approval to make a move.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this week that the U.S.-Philippine alliance remains “deep and strong,” adding “that the United States has not received any official requests from President Duterte or any other Filipino officials to alter any aspects of our bilateral cooperation.”

The Philippines and China have been engaged in a territorial dispute over the South China Sea.

Washington has taken no official position on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, drawing ire from the Philippines.

Despite the Philippines military alliance with the United States, the Filipino military remains incapable of addressing security threats that stem from the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, noted Duterte’s top diplomat Yasay.

“Worse is that our only ally could not give us the assurance that in taking a hard line towards the enforcement of our sovereignty rights under international law, it will promptly come to our defense under our existing military treaty and agreements,” the Foreign Affairs chief declared.

India, Pakistan, and China have competing claims in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, but Beijing has stayed in the shadows of the recent dispute between the other two countries.

Nevertheless, China also holds joint military exercises with its neighbor India, which has been strengthening its military ties with the U.S. as well, given its wariness of Beijing’s relationship with Pakistan and its growing military.

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