Philippines presidential candidate Marcos to maintain US ties, tread carefully with China

Mr Ferdinand Marcos Jr said he rejects the idea of aligning with just one country. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - Philippine presidential front runner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr said he would maintain the nation's alliance with the US, and tread carefully with Beijing over a South China Sea territorial dispute.

Military deals between the US and the Philippines "are advantageous to both countries", Mr Marcos told a virtual forum on Wednesday (March 16).

The alliance between the two nations is "a special relationship", and the US "can do many things" to help the Philippines, he said.

However Mr Marcos said he rejects the idea of aligning with just one country, and said the Philippines should carefully navigate its tensions with China.

"You have to be friends to everyone. You don't want to be enemies with anyone," he said.

The Philippines' relationship with the US faced challenges under President Rodrigo Duterte, as he repeatedly threatened to end a key military deal with the US, before deciding in 2021 to keep it.

Mr Marcos, who had a huge lead in a presidential preference survey last month, also earlier said he wants a deal with China to resolve the sea dispute.

His stance is similar to that of Mr Duterte, who improved ties with Beijing, while tapping Chinese funding for infrastructure projects.

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