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Philippines’ Marcos calls Australia partnership increasingly vital

‘Our cooperation is an assertion of our national interest and a recognition of our regional responsibility,’ says Australian Prime Minister Albanese MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. told Australia’s Parliament last week that the strategic partnership between the two nations was more important than ever with the rule of law and peace in the region under threat from China.

Marcos told a special joint sitting of the two chambers during a state visit that the Philippines would not allow a foreign power to “take even one square inch of our sovereign territory.”

It is a declaration he has often repeated since taking office in 2022 and refers to China’s disputed claims to the Philippines’ territory in the South China Sea.

See (December 2023): U.S. and China re-establish military-to-military line of communication

Marcos said Australia and the Philippines need to band together against new challenges to the region’s peace and stability, as they had against Japanese forces during World War II.

“Not one single country can do this by itself. No single force can counter them by themselves,” Marcos said. “This is why our strategic partnership has grown more important than ever.”

Marcos said his father, former President Ferdinand Marcos, and then–Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam reaffirmed that the security of their two countries was bound together in 1974 when they toured the Philippines’ second world war battlefields of Bataan and Corregidor.

Australia and the Philippines for the first time conducted joint sea and air patrols in the South China Sea in November last year.

Marcos said the Philippines and Australia fought to build a rules-based international order after World War II, and that they must now fight to protect that order in the South China Sea.

“The protection of the South China Sea as a vital, critical global artery is crucial to the preservation of regional peace and, I dare say, of global peace,” Marcos said.