(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines is confident in its alliance with Washington and expects continued backing in its maritime dispute with China no matter who wins the US election in November, a coast guard official said.

Speaking at a forum organized by the foreign correspondents’ association on Thursday, Coast Guard spokesman Jay Tarriela pledged to continue to speak out against Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, where both nations hold competing territorial claims. He recalled how it was the Trump administration that clarified the US’s obligation under its 1951 mutual defense treaty to defend the Philippines in the event of an attack.

“The only thing I know about Trump is that he is not a fan of China,” Tarriela said of the former president. “I’d like to believe that our alliance with the US will not be negatively affected by having Trump again in the White House.”

Under President Joe Biden, Washington enhanced military cooperation with Manila through a mix of drills, patrols and an expanded defense pact as part of a broader effort seen as helping push back on Beijing. He’s reiterated that America’s commitment to the Philippines is ironclad.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has likewise taken a more assertive stance against Beijing’s used of so-called grey-zone tactics in the contested waterway, with both sides publicly criticizing one another over repeated incidents involving competing vessels. Beijing claims a huge swath of the South China Sea, a move contested by nations including the Philippines and Vietnam.

Tarriela said the Philippines is seeking ways to drum up support from fellow Southeast Asian nations that have largely refrained from condemning China, their chief trading partner.

“When we talk about food security and the welfare of fishermen, this is a concern not just for Western countries, but also for Southeast Asian countries,” he said. “We can expect that Southeast Asian neighbors will somehow support us as we try to once again our tweak our transparency strategy.”

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