Toned-down bilateral relations with US seen under Biden presidency – envoy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 23) - The bilateral relationship between the United States and the Philippines may tone down if ever Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the presidency, said a top Philippine diplomat.

Philippine envoy to the US Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez said that the two countries are currently in good terms under Republican nominee and President Donald Trump.

“I think right now our relationship with the United States is a very good relationship. We are in a good place right now. We have our continuing relationship as far as both the military and the political side of the equation,” Romualdez told CNN Philippines on Friday.

He noted that Trump administration had always supported the stance of the Philippines regarding the South China Sea row.

“President Trump has always been supportive of course of the Philippines in terms of our dispute in the South China Sea,” added Romualdez. “This administration has been there in the forefront more than in the past.”

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo formally rejected last July most of China’s maritime claims to the areas in the South China Sea, which are contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. He said that Beijing’s claims are “unlawful.”

Although the US and the Philippines would still remain in good terms in the future, Romualdez said that a presidency under Biden might dampen the bilateral relationship of the two.

“But what we see in the future, perhaps the same, except perhaps it’s a little bit toned-down with the Biden administration if and when he becomes the president,” he said.

Trump had criticized the former vice president of then US leader Barack Obama for being “soft” on China. He also slammed before the previous administration for failing to stop China from expanding its influence in the South China Sea.

READ: ANALYSIS: Trump or Biden, which candidate does China want in the White House?

However, Romualdez was assured by the Democrats that Biden would still continue the current policies in the South China Sea.

“Although we have already reached out to some our friends in the Democratic Party and they said that some foreign policy advisers of vice president Biden have indicated that they will continue the policy they have now in the South China Sea,” said Romualdez.

In its 92-page party platform, the Democrats said that it will be "aggressive" towards China.

The US presidential election will happen on Nov. 3.