Author Topic: Philippines  (Read 136034 times)

Crafty_Dog

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D1: Philippine food prices soaring
« Reply #150 on: February 09, 2021, 11:59:27 AM »
Philippine price hikes. Food prices are reportedly soaring in the Philippines. The Duterte government has imposed price controls, but that has mostly led to shortages of certain staples. It’s worth repeating ad nauseam: Food inflation historically has been very, very politically explosive. Watch this space.


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Commie leader killed
« Reply #152 on: November 02, 2021, 02:28:16 AM »
Elusive Communist rebel leader killed in army operation

BY JIM GOMEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS MANILA, PHILIPPINES | Philippine forces have killed a key communist rebel commander in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies, in what the military described as a daring raid in the country’s remote southern region, but what guerrilla leaders said was an ambush.

Jorge Madlos, who used the nom de guerre Ka Oris, was for many decades a leading figure and spokesman for the communist fighters in the southern Philippines’ mountainous hinterlands.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said government forces killed Madlos in Bukidnon province on Saturday. He described the rebel’s death as a major blow to the already-battered New People’s Army guerrilla group.

Regional military commander Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner said villagers tipped off the military about the presence of about 30 rebels, who were holding discussions with residents in a remote village near Impasug-ong town. Fighter planes were deployed to fire rockets at the rebel position, which the military said was protected by land mines, before a ground assault was ordered. After a gun battle that lasted less than an hour, troops found the bodies of Mr. Madlos, 72, and his medical aide, their assault rifles and ammunition, Gen. Brawner said.

“Justice has been served for those innocent civilians and their communities he terrorized for several decades,” Gen. Brawner told reporters.

The guerrillas, however, said in a statement on a website linked to the group that the long-ailing Mr. Madlos was traveling with a rebel medic on a motorcycle to get medical treatment when government forces gunned them down. The rebels said both Mr. Madlos and his companion were unarmed and that no military airstrike or gun battle took place.

Military commanders have blamed the guerrilla leader and his forces for years of deadly assaults against security forces. There were also attacks on mining companies and pineapple and other agricultural plantations to extort money, or what the rebels call “revolutionary taxes,” from local and foreignowned businesses.

Mr. Madlos was blamed by the military for helping to plot a 2011 attack by more than 200 guerrillas on three nickel mining complexes in southern Surigao del Norte province which the rebels ransacked the site after disarming guards and holding several employees at gunpoint. One of the companies that came under attack, the country’s biggest nickel producer partly owned by Japan’s Sumitomo Corp., was forced to temporarily halt operations following the raid.

Mr. Madlos was a student activist who quit college and went underground after then-Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. Distinguished by his trademark Mao-style cap, goatee and folksy manners, Mr. Madlos stuck it out with the insurgency even after falling ill more than a decade ago. In an interview with The Associated Press in 2010 from a rebel mountain camp in the south, he said that only one thing could make him leave his comrades.

“Our retirement comes in death,” Mr. Madlos said then.

The military says about 3,500 to 4,000 communist fighters remain despite years of rebel setbacks, surrenders and factionalism. Peace talks brokered by Norway collapsed between President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and the guerrillas after both sides accused each other of renewed deadly attacks.

“Ka Oris was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of soldiers and civilians for decades,” Col. Ramon Zagala, spokesman for Philippines’ military, said.

“His death will deter the activities and plans by the NPA for he can no longer direct the communist terrorists’ violent actions against our people,” Col. Zagala said.


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Philippines
« Reply #153 on: November 24, 2021, 09:56:01 AM »
wo Powerful Dynasties Accused of Rights Abuses Join Forces in the Philippines
Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the current president, opts to run as vice president rather than challenge Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of a former dictator

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the Philippines’ late dictator, and Sara Duterte-Carpio, the incumbent leader’s daughter, will run together for president and vice president.
PHOTO: (L) ROUELLE UMALI, PRESS POOL, (R) ASSOCIATED PRESS
By Feliz Solomon
Nov. 17, 2021 5:30 am ET


SINGAPORE—Two political dynasties have joined forces in the Philippines presidential race, creating a formidable ticket in the contest and uniting two powerful families that have faced allegations of human rights abuses.

Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of the incumbent president, avoided a showdown with Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of a former dictator, when she opted to run for the vice presidency instead of challenging him for the top job.

The May election will determine the leadership of a U.S. ally central to Washington’s efforts to counter China’s rising influence. The winner will succeed Rodrigo Duterte, a brash-talking populist who has expressed disregard for Western ideas about human rights and disdain for the U.S., a former colonial power. As relations cooled with Washington, Mr. Duterte steered the Philippines more directly into the orbit of China.

Mr. Marcos and Mrs. Duterte-Carpio are viewed as favorites in the race, both polling ahead of their opponents and each commanding a strong support base—he in the nation’s north and she in the south. The presidential and vice presidential posts are elected separately, but candidates commonly team up as de facto running mates. The two have endorsed each other as running mates.


Political analysts say they would likely uphold some of the policies and tactics of Mr. Duterte, who has been accused of eroding democracy and human rights in the country. He has waged a deadly war on drugs, expanded presidential influence over the judiciary and attacked the press. Critics say he has manipulated the court system to imprison political opponents.

During the Obama administration, Mr. Duterte frequently lashed out at his U.S. counterpart over his criticisms of the Philippine president’s antidrug policies. Human-rights groups say as many as 14,000 people have died as a result of Mr. Duterte’s drug war, as police and vigilantes allegedly carried out extrajudicial killings of suspected users and dealers. Mr. Duterte has said independent death counts are exaggerated and has defended his actions as justified.

The race to succeed Mr. Duterte is rife with big personalities and catchy nicknames. Mr. Marcos, popularly known as “Bongbong,” faces a host of challengers. They include Mr. Duterte’s protégé, Christopher “Bong” Go; former boxing world champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao; sitting Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo; and Manila Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso, a former television star known by his stage name “Isko.”

Mrs. Duterte-Carpio, mayor of the city of Davao, was widely expected to run for president to succeed her father, who can’t seek re-election because Philippine presidents are limited to a single six-year term. Political analysts say Mrs. Duterte-Carpio may have calculated that joining forces with Mr. Marcos was safer than challenging him, which might have split the vote and benefited the opposition.

Mr. Duterte said last month that he would retire from politics at the end of his term, but jumped back into the fray Monday as a Senate candidate, ending speculation—fanned by his own assertions—that he might challenge his daughter for the vice presidency.

“I think it’s a reflection of fundamental tensions within the house of Duterte,” said Richard Heydarian, an associate professor at Polytechnic University of the Philippines who focuses on geopolitics. “The daughter and the father disagree on how to deal with the resurgence of the Marcoses.”


Mr. Marcos, 64 years old, is the only son and namesake of the dictator who ruled for two decades until being ousted by a pro-democracy uprising in 1986. Human-rights groups say thousands were killed and tens of thousands imprisoned under the Marcos regime. The family was accused of pilfering billions of dollars from state funds.


The political career of the younger Mr. Marcos dates back to the late days of his father’s reign, when he became vice governor and later governor of a province in the country’s far north at the age of 23. The Marcoses fled into exile in Hawaii six years later, and in the decades since the family’s living members have made no gestures of remorse.

In interviews with local media, Mr. Marcos has declined to apologize on behalf of his father and said that he himself had done nothing wrong.

The elder Mr. Marcos died in exile in 1989. Other members of the family, including the younger Mr. Marcos and his extravagant mother, Imelda Marcos, were allowed to return to the Philippines in 1991 to face criminal charges including corruption and tax fraud. As the charges against them made their way through the courts, Mrs. Marcos and her son jumped back into politics. Both went on to serve in various elected roles.

Mrs. Marcos, now 92 years old, was acquitted on many of the dozens of charges against her, and successfully appealed a 1993 graft conviction. She was found guilty of corruption in 2018, but avoided prison time due to an appeal and her advanced age. Mr. Marcos was convicted of tax evasion in 1995, but his prison sentence was voided by an appellate court.

A Marcos presidency would “further erode human rights and democracy in the Philippines, that’s for certain,” said Carlos Conde, senior Philippines researcher for Human Rights Watch.

“Quite apart from the fact that they have not been held to account for the many abuses during their father’s regime, the Marcoses have engaged in historical revisionism that seeks to sanitize their name,” Mr. Conde said.


The elder Mr. Marcos initially had backing from the U.S. due to his usefulness as a partner against communism during the Cold War, though relations eventually soured. The younger Mr. Marcos isn’t known for harboring anti-American views.

None of the candidates in next year’s election have indicated that they share Mr. Duterte’s open animosity toward Washington, and all are likely to take a more protectionist stance toward China, analysts say. Many Filipinos are wary of influence from China, as the country has pledged massive development assistance, leading to concern over debt. The Philippines is also one of half a dozen claimants to parts of the South China Sea, where Beijing has in recent years aggressively sought to impose control over disputed waters.


Little is known about Mrs. Duterte-Carpio’s views on foreign policy. The 43-year-old was groomed early on as a potential successor to her father. The Dutertes have been a force in Davao since before the Marcos era. Shortly after earning a law degree, Mrs. Duterte-Carpio made her political debut in 2007 as vice mayor under her father in the twilight of his tenure as the city’s chief. In 2010, they traded jobs and she served as mayor for three years. She was elected to succeed him when he became president in 2016.

In recent years, Mrs. Duterte-Carpio cultivated a softer image than her father, but she still has a reputation as a plucky and unorthodox leader. In 2011, she was captured on video repeatedly punching a sheriff in the face as she tried to delay the demolition of a shanty settlement. She later apologized for the viral episode, telling the local news site Rappler in a 2012 interview, “I’m not really proud of it, it’s really the wrong kind of fame.”


Analysts say she has a more modern approach to governance than her father, and is more receptive to expert advice. Her speech is more polished and less crude than that of her father, who is known for deriding critics with foul names and peppering public appearances with expletives. She is often seen smiling in photographs and addresses the public mainly via highly scripted videos shared on social media.

“Sara Duterte is her father’s daughter, but she’s not necessarily going to be his puppet or proxy,” said the Polytechnic University’s Mr. Heydarian. “She doesn’t seem to have the kind of rambunctious swagger and confidence of her father, she seems to be a little bit more calibrated.”

Write to Feliz Solomon at feliz.solomon@wsj.com


Crafty_Dog

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ET on implications of Bong Bong
« Reply #155 on: May 11, 2022, 09:02:19 AM »
Marcos wins landslide victory in presidential vote

Win complicates U.S. efforts to counter China

BY DAVID RISING AND JIM GOMEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS MANILA | Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s landslide victory in the Philippine presidential election is giving rise to immediate concerns about a further erosion of democracy in the region, and could complicate American efforts to blunt growing Chinese influence and power in the Pacific.

Mr. Marcos, the son and namesake of longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos, captured more than 30.8 million votes in Monday’s election according to an unofficial count, more than double those of his closest challenger.

If the results stand, he will take office at the end of June for a six-year term with Sara Duterte, the daughter of outgoing populist President Rodrigo Duterte, as his vice president.

The mercurial Mr. Duterte — who leaves office with a 67% approval rating — nurtured closer ties with China and Russia, while at times railing against the United States.

He has walked back on many of his threats against Washington, however, including a move to abrogate a defense pact between the two countries, and the luster of China’s promise of infrastructure investment has dulled, with much failing to materialize.

Whether the recent trend in relations with the U.S. will continue has a lot to do with how the Biden administration responds to the return of a Marcos to power in the Philippines, said Manilabased political scientist Andrea Chloe Wong, a former researcher in the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

“On the one hand you have Biden regarding the geostrategic interests in the Philippines, and on the other hand he has to balance promoting American democratic ideals and human rights,” she said.

“If he chooses to do that, he might have to isolate the Marcos administration, so this will definitely be a delicate balancing act for the Philippines, and Marcos’ approach to the U.S. will highly depend on how Biden will engage with him.”

His election comes at a time when the U.S. has been increasingly focused on the region, embarking on a strategy unveiled in February to considerably broaden U.S. engagement by strengthening a web of security alliances and partnerships, with an emphasis on confronting China’s growing influence and ambitions.

Thousands of American and Filipino forces recently wrapped up one of their largest combat exercises in years, which showcased U.S. firepower in the northern Philippines near its sea border with Taiwan.

Mr. Marcos has been short on specifics about foreign policy, but in interviews he said he wanted to pursue closer ties with China, including possibly setting aside a 2016 ruling by a tribunal in The Hague in Manila’s favor that invalidated almost all of China’s historical claims to the South China Sea.

China has refused to recognize the ruling, and the 64-yearold Mr. Marcos was quoted as saying “that arbitration is no longer an arbitration if there’s only one party.”

Mr. Marcos has also said he would maintain his nation’s alliance with the U.S., but the relationship is complicated by American backing of the administrations that took power after his father was deposed in the mid-1980s, and a 2011 U.S. District Court ruling in Hawaii finding him and his mother in contempt of an order to furnish information on assets in connection with a 1995 human rights class action suit against his father, a longtime political strongman.

Even though the Biden administration may have preferred to work with Mr. Marcos’ leading opponent, Vice President Leni Robredo, the “U.S.-Philippines alliance is vital to both nations’ security and prosperity, especially in the new era of competition with China,” said Gregory B. Poling, director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“Unlike Leni, with her coherent platform for good governance and development at home and standing up to China abroad, Marcos is a policy cipher,” Mr. Poling said in a research note. “He has avoided presidential debates, shunned interviews, and has been silent on most issues.”

Mr. Marcos has been clear, however, that he would like to try again to improve ties with Beijing, Mr. Poling said.

“But when it comes to foreign policy, Marcos will not have the same space for maneuver that Duterte did,” he said. “The Philippines tried an outstretched hand and China bit it. That is why the Duterte government has reembraced the U.S. alliance and gotten tougher on Beijing over the last two years.”

Domestically, Mr. Marcos, who goes by his childhood nickname “Bongbong,” is widely expected to pick up where Mr. Duterte left off, battling with the free press and cracking down on dissent with less of the outgoing leader’s crude and brash style. But a return to the hard-line rule of his father, who declared martial law for much of his rule, is not likely, said Julio Teehankee, a political science professor at Manila’s De La Salle University.

“He does not have the courage or the brilliance, or even the ruthlessness to become a dictator, so I think what we will see is a form of authoritarian-lite or Marcos-lite,” Mr. Teehankee said

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Philippines-Russia
« Reply #156 on: August 01, 2022, 12:35:24 PM »
If only we were an exporter , , ,

Philippine power. Russia is prepared to help the Philippines build a nuclear power plant, Russia’s ambassador to the country said. He also gave an update on bilateral negotiations on the supply of fertilizers and noted the Philippines’ interest in building a partnership in the energy sector.

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Stratfor: Philippines in the Middle
« Reply #157 on: November 16, 2022, 07:20:50 PM »
The Philippines Secures Its Spot in the Middle of U.S.-China Tensions
7 MIN READNov 16, 2022 | 15:03 GMT





The Philippines' ongoing rapprochement with the United States provides clarity as to Manila's foreign policy but also exposes the country to a combination of threats and offers from China. On Nov. 8, the Philippines' Department of National Defense announced plans to work closely with the United States to accelerate projects under the two countries' Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which allows the United States to constantly rotate troops in the Philippines, use Philippine bases for prolonged stays, and build and operate facilities in-country with its own personnel. As part of this renewed cooperation under the EDCA, the Philippines' Department of National Defense announced that it would upgrade and repair the five military bases that the United States maintains in the Philippines under the agreement while ''exploring new locations [for additional military bases] that will build a more credible mutual defense posture.'' The full implementation of the EDCA would imply de facto permanent basing of U.S. troops in the Philippines, representing a notable shift in Manila's foreign policy and military stance since the beginning of former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's 2016-2022 term. Also on Nov. 8, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. pledged to modernize the country's armed forces to be ''ready for all eventualities,'' including territorial defense, an indirect reference to potential conflict with China in the disputed South China Sea or over neighboring Taiwan.

The Philippines and the United States signed the EDCA in 2014, but the agreement stalled under Duterte. It expands the longstanding 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement under the U.S.-Philippine 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.
To enhance interoperability, Manila has agreed to as many as 500 joint military exercises scheduled for 2023, up from 300 this year. In recent years, U.S. allies Japan, South Korea and Australia have participated as observers in the Balikatan, Salaknib and Kamandag wargame exercises. Japan is likewise exploring signing a Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines.
The Philippines has not hosted permanent U.S. bases since Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base closed in 1991 and 1992, respectively. But there were extended U.S. deployments in the country from 2002-2007 as part of Washington's war on terrorism.
The Philippines has gradually realigned its security interests with those of the United States because of stalled progress on the South China Sea dispute and unrelenting Chinese incursions. While former President Duterte was vocally pro-China and anti-United States, China's underdelivered promises on initiatives crucial to his domestic agenda, as well as heightened Chinese aggression, forced Duterte to reassess his foreign policy in July 2020. From then on, he slowly tilted back toward Washington and started exerting a more proactive policy with respect to the country's maritime claims. Before Marcos assumed office in June 2022, the United States was unsure of his position toward China, but he has continued Duterte's trajectory by taking a less accommodating foreign policy position toward China, describing their maritime dispute in the South China Sea as ''China claiming territory that belongs to the Philippines'' and making reference to the country's ''American partners'' who share and promote the same view.

Hundreds of Chinese maritime militia vessels unceasingly operate in the disputed South China Sea daily, and the Philippines has filed 405 diplomatic complaints about Chinese incursions in its claimed waters since 2020.

On July 25, Marcos vowed to not give up ''even one square inch of territory to foreign powers'' before legislators.

On Sept. 6, the Philippine ambassador to the United States said the Philippines would let U.S. forces use the country's military bases in the event of a U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan if doing so benefited the Philippines' own security.

On Sept. 23, Marcos and U.S. President Joe Biden met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where Marcos sought deeper security collaboration with the United States. This was followed by a Sept. 29 meeting between defense chiefs to discuss implementing the EDCA.

On Oct. 26, the Philippines' Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said his country is counting on the United States to defend its sovereign rights, and a senior U.S. defense official revealed the next day that U.S.-operated EDCA sites in the Philippines will expand from five to ten, pending approval from the country's foreign and defense ministries.

The Philippines' decision to ensconce itself in U.S. security architecture exposes the country to security risks, particularly in the case of a conflict with China. The EDCA is an executive agreement without senate ratification, which means Marcos could rescind it on his own. The unilateral decision to reverse eight years of stalling the 2014 pact is thus intended to rapidly boost the Philippines' security collaboration with the United States. This is particularly provocative as some of the existing and potential bases are located in areas optimized to contain Chinese naval power. The Philippines is also reinforcing its status as the United States' most deeply entrenched security partner in Southeast Asia. In the case of an eventual U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan, China's People's Liberation Army would likely prioritize targeting U.S. regional bases — including those in the Philippines. Though intended to serve as a deterrent, de facto permanent U.S. basing in the Philippines could thus have the opposite effect. The Philippines' role in U.S. plans to defend Taiwan — along with its position near the southernmost point of the first island chain — further risks making the Philippines a target of Chinese attacks in the case of a greater U.S.-China conflict over the island.

Several existing and potential EDCA bases are strategically positioned to target China: Basa Air Base and Antonio Bautista Air Base face the contested South China Sea; potential sites in the northernmost Mavulis and Fuga Islands face Taiwan, with Mavulis less than 90 miles away.

The ''first island chain'' — a term coined to reflect U.S. Cold War defense doctrine in 1951 — runs from the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula to the Malay Peninsula. Taiwan is a major link in the chain. Restricting Chinese naval power within this region is a critical element of the United States' containment strategy.

China will likely use a combination of economic incentives and threats to deter the Philippines from further strengthening its relations with the United States. Despite the Philippines' decision to move closer to the United States, deep economic cooperation with China leaves the door open for further balancing initiatives. Having possibly achieved some security leverage, the Philippines may use the U.S.-China competition to play one against the other and could offer to reduce U.S. security ties in exchange for economic considerations. But Marcos has pledged to keep South China Sea issues central to his administration's foreign policy, likely portending a continued stalemate on the issue and indicating that security will remain a top priority. Economic issues such as fishing and joint oil and gas exploration in the disputed maritime region will likely still drive Beijing's response and Manila's calibrations going forward. Beijing may feel inclined to deny Manila favorable provisions on these issues to pressure the Marcos administration to disentangle from U.S. security architecture. But China and the Philippines will likely maintain their mutually beneficial economic and infrastructure projects, such as an October agreement to tighten semiconductor supply chains by building corresponding industrial parks in each country. Beijing cannot afford to abandon Manila because it is a valuable trade partner — especially as China looks to broadly insulate its economy from the West and compete for strategic influence in the first island chain. The Philippines, for its part, also cannot afford to lose out on key infrastructure projects.

China is financing up to 90% of the Philippines' $350 million Samal Island-Davao City bridge project.
In early January, Marcos will visit Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at China's request.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Philippines
« Reply #158 on: November 22, 2022, 05:53:20 AM »
U.S. seeks expansion of military presence in Philippines

BY JIM GOMEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS MANILA, PHILIPPINES | The Biden administration is pursuing an expansion of the American military presence in the Philippines under a 2014 defense pact, U.S. and Philippine officials said, one of the initiatives Vice President Kamala Harris launched Monday during her visit to America’s oldest treaty ally in Asia.

With China looming as a rising power in the region, Ms. Harris also reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to defend the Philippines under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty in talks with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the presidential palace in Manila.

The high-level assurance came a day after China’s coast guard forcibly seized Chinese rocket debris that Filipino navy personnel found and were towing to a Philippines-occupied island in the disputed South China Sea. China, the Philippines and four other governments are locked in increasingly tense territorial disputes in the strategic waterway.

“An armed attack on the Philippines armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments,” Ms. Harris told Mr. Marcos, becoming the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Manila since Mr. Marcos, the son of the longtime former dictator was elected in a landslide earlier this year. “And that is an unwavering commitment that we have to the Philippines.”

Mr. Marcos replied that, given the upheavals in the region and beyond, “this partnership becomes even more important.”

On Tuesday, Ms. Harris flies to the western Philippine island province of Palawan, which faces the South China Sea, to showcase the level of concern America has for keeping the busy waterway open for commerce and navigation and to assure allies like the Philippines.

China’s increasingly aggressive actions to fortify its claims to most of the busy waterway have alarmed smaller claimant nations. The U.S. has been helping strengthen the Philippine coast guard, which said it would welcome Ms. Harris aboard one of its biggest patrol ships moored in Palawan.

Ms. Harris and her delegation also announced a variety of U.S. assistance and initiatives to help the Philippines deal with climate change and looming food and energy crises, including talks on a proposed agreement that would provide the legal basis for U.S. exports of nuclear equipment and material for energy to the Philippines.

A former American colony, the Philippines used to host one of the largest U.S. Navy and Air Force bases outside the American mainland. The bases were shut down in the early 1990s after the Philippine Senate rejected an extension, but American forces returned for large-scale combat exercises with Filipino troops under a 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement.

In 2014, the allies signed the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement, which allows larger numbers of American forces to stay in rotating batches within Philippine military camps, where they can build warehouses, living quarters, joint training facilities and store combat equipment, except nuclear arms. The Philippines could take over those buildings and facilities when the Americans leave.

Philippine military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro said last week that the U.S. wanted to construct military facilities in five more areas in the northern Philippines.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was delivering a similar message to another U.S. ally in the region at virtually the same time Monday on a stop in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

At a joint news conference after meeting with Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Mr. Austin said they discussed ways to deepen the two countries’ partnership, including through expanding interoperability and increasing investments in defense education.

“The United States is proud to partner with you as we work together to advance our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Mr. Austin said.

But the exchange also reflected the wariness many Eastern Asian states have about getting caught up in the superpower rivalry developing between Washington in Beijing, as Mr. Subianto stressed Indonesia’s neutral stance in the region.

“I like to emphasize that Indonesia always takes the position of trying to maintain the best relationships with all nations, especially all the major powers,” Mr. Subianto said.


Crafty_Dog

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GPF: China's getting nose further into Philippine tent
« Reply #159 on: January 09, 2023, 08:42:36 AM »
Chinese investment. Philippine Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said several Chinese firms have expressed interest in investing in the Philippines’ energy sector, after the government passed amendments allowing 100 percent ownership of wind and solar projects. The Philippines aims to supply 35 percent of its energy needs through renewable sources by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.

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GPF: George Friedman: China and the Philippines
« Reply #160 on: January 10, 2023, 11:27:51 AM »
January 10, 2023
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China and the Philippines
By: George Friedman

Last week, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. visited President Xi Jinping in China, where they agreed to cooperate in peace and security operations and in developing gas and oil deposits in the South China Sea. On the surface, this seems like a routine diplomatic meeting, but that it took place at all suggests there may be more than meets the eye. Relations between the Philippines and China have been strained in the past, with Beijing unhappy about Manila’s ties with the U.S. and Manila angry about Beijing poaching in its territorial waters.

Eased tensions between the two reveals some of the dynamics at play between China and the United States. China’s strategic problem is that it depends on international trade, particularly for minerals, and on exports, particularly to the United States. Exports account for about 20 percent of China's gross domestic product.

From this, it follows that the most important Chinese imperative is to maintain exports, and the greatest threat to its exports is if China were denied access to the global sea lanes. The ports on China’s east coast are the key to China’s economy. If they were closed or interdicted for any reason, the Chinese economy would be stunned at least and shattered at most.

There is a sense in the United States and elsewhere that China is a potentially offensive nation. In fact, it is a fundamentally defensive nation. Its fear is that the U.S. would try, by military action or otherwise, to close China’s ports or prevent its ships from transporting goods. This necessitates from China a military strategy designed to limit U.S. access to the South China Sea and guarantee its own access to the Pacific.

The line of islands running from Taiwan to Indonesia is the key to solving China’s strategic problem. The islands provide limited passage into the Pacific and are narrow enough that U.S. naval forces could block the relatively narrow gaps they create. There is a great deal of discussion about China’s intentions toward Taiwan. An invasion of Taiwan would require amphibious forces to move across the Taiwan Straits, where they would be vulnerable to Taiwanese or American anti-ship missiles.

Beijing would struggle to absorb a failed invasion, of course, but even if the operation succeeded, it wouldn’t change China’s geographic challenges. It is not Taiwan that Beijing needs to control but the straits north and south of Taiwan. The northern route is flanked by an increasingly powerful Japan, with a force built to block a Chinese adventure. Holding Taiwan doesn’t change this fact. Nor does it change the reality that the southern and northern routes around Taiwan are open waters vulnerable to a host of long-range weapons.

The more interesting gap is the 600 miles (965 kilometers) between Taiwan and the Philippines. It is a broader passage, which is necessarily more difficult to close. The same could be said for the 300-mile expanse south between the Philippines and Indonesia. Indeed, the fact that the Philippines is such a vast congregation of islands creates a multiplicity of routes that China covets. Unlike the northern routes, these southern passes demand defensive forces to be spread much more thinly. And if China had access to the Philippines, it could base aircraft and missiles as an added threat and uncertain variable.

The key is reaching an understanding with the Philippines. Beijing and Manila have any number of reasons to distrust each other, so these negotiations are not even the beginning of serious thoughts. If talks become more serious, the United States has several ways it can counter, of course, but it raises the question of intentions and costs. China would likely pay a very high price for access to the Philippines because it is worth more than Taiwan, and it likely wouldn’t have to fight a potentially losing war to access it. The Philippines may not completely liberate China from the first island chain, but it is impossible to believe Beijing isn’t dreaming about it. Manila may be content to sit and wait, wondering what kind of toll it can extract from the U.S. for refusing an offer from China.

Not incidentally, the commander of the US Marines announced on Monday a program to prepare the Philippines for war in conjunction with Japan. What this means is unclear. It isn’t intended to start a war but to prevent one. What is certain is that China’s meeting with Marcos rang alarm bells in Washington.

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Respect for George Friedman, but this I think is quite unsound:

"There is a sense in the United States and elsewhere that China is a potentially offensive nation. In fact, it is a fundamentally defensive nation. Its fear is that the U.S. would try, by military action or otherwise, to close China’s ports or prevent its ships from transporting goods. This necessitates from China a military strategy designed to limit U.S. access to the South China Sea and guarantee its own access to the Pacific."

China IS an offensive nation when properly seen through the filter of Grey War.

 

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gpf: Philippines-China
« Reply #161 on: May 02, 2023, 02:28:58 AM »
Chinese-Philippine Confrontation
By: George Friedman
The Philippine coast guard reported last week that two of its ships were involved in a confrontation with the Chinese navy in the South China Sea. According to the Philippines, the Chinese vessels were engaged in unsafe maneuvers. The incident occurred near the Spratly Islands, which have been a point of contention for years.

This episode is of little military significance since the Philippines and China have been dueling in the region for years. What is significant, however, is the timing. In January, the Chinese launched a significant diplomatic opening with the Philippines. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had accepted an invitation to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China. The meeting, which seems to have gone well, represented a potential threat to the United States, which was the dominant outside power in the region and had considerable influence in the Philippines. (Relatedly, Marcos met with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington on Monday.)

South China Sea
(click to enlarge)

The Philippines had found itself in – or maneuvered itself into – the tension between China and the United States. A fundamental imperative of Beijing has long been to have unlimited access to the Pacific. China is an exporting power, and its position relative to Taiwan and the Philippines made Beijing vulnerable to a blockade by the U.S. China had concentrated on the northern flank of this problem, trying to seduce or force Taiwan into expelling the U.S. Navy and other American assets in order to secure its access to the Pacific. Another potential route was between the islands of the Philippines, which are plentiful enough to make it difficult for the U.S. to blockade. Finally, there’s the gap between Taiwan and the Philippines that could be used.

The Chinese have tried to intimidate Taiwan by sea and air, hoping that the threat of war might cause Taiwan to change alliances or the United States to withdraw. This has been an increasingly tense area, but neither the Taiwanese nor the Americans buckled.

That left China with the options of either facing an extremely risky naval war with the United States over Taiwan or shifting its focus southward to the Philippines. Hence the summit between Marcos and Xi. Obviously, Xi was eager to go forward with the relationship, but the Philippines backed away. It’s unclear whether this was because Marcos saw greater economic and security benefits in remaining aligned with the United States, or because significant pressure from the U.S. forced the Philippines to step back. Notably, the U.S. was granted expanded access to Philippine military bases following the U.S. defense secretary’s visit to Manila in February.

With this, Xi’s Philippines gambit appears to have failed, or rather backfired, creating another major block between the South China Sea and the Pacific for Beijing. The American wall still has gaps, of course, but the biggest brick between Taiwan and the northern Philippines is unlikely to fall. (It should be noted that the Philippines and China announced on Monday that they will hold talks on fishing rights – which may indicate some sort of accommodation, although it’s far from a solution to the real issues.)

It’s not surprising, then, that the pressure on Taiwan has continued and even intensified. It’s also not surprising that China has been increasingly aggressive in the Spratlys and is engaging the Philippine navy and coast guard with increasing assertiveness. Rather than the door opening, it seems to be closing on a fundamental interest of China: having unfettered access to the Pacific. China is also seeking to force the Philippines to reverse its relations with the United States by raising the possibility of conflict, a strategy it has used with Taiwan for years. But it has never actually moved toward battle. Taking Taiwan would be difficult, and China cannot risk a defeat, which would undermine its international standing and even its internal stature. The Philippine reality makes it even harder for the Chinese to consider war there, particularly with U.S. forces to be housed in the country. But given that it takes time for forces to deploy, if China is going to try to be engaged in an aggressive posture, now is the time to do so. But as in Taiwan, posture and launching a war are very different things, and at this point, it’s unlikely China can rapidly break down the door. The most it has done so far is send ships to harass the Philippine navy and perhaps extract some sort of lesser concessions.

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RANE: Clarified/expanded defense commitments to Philippines
« Reply #162 on: May 05, 2023, 11:27:02 AM »
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Clarified U.S. Defense Commitments Rock the Boat in the South China Sea
May 5, 2023 | 16:55 GMT





A Chinese coast guard ship (R) shadows the Philippine coast guard vessel BRP Malapascua (L) while on patrol at the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea on April 23, 2023.
A Chinese coast guard ship (R) shadows the Philippine coast guard vessel BRP Malapascua (L) while on patrol at the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea on April 23, 2023.

(Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)
Can't access the whole article at the moment, but this very much looks like a good thing:


Clarified defense commitments from the United States will bolster the Philippines' maritime security, but also raise the risk of a direct military confrontation with China. The U.S. Department of Defense issued a six-page document on May 4 outlining its defense commitments under the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, the first effort to clarify the U.S. position since the treaty was signed in 1951. The department clarified four criteria: the geographic scope of the treaty, Philippine entities the United States is committed to defending, intelligence sharing protocols, and ways Washington plans to counter Chinese gray zone capacities in the region (actions that fall between war and cooperation). Broadly, the document expands U.S. commitments to defend the Philippines if it is attacked "anywhere in the South China Sea" and not only in the so-called West Philippine Sea, the area of the disputed waters claimed by the Philippines within its exclusive economic zone (

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WSJ: Tiny Philippine Island fends of China
« Reply #163 on: December 05, 2023, 03:16:37 AM »

On a Tiny Island in the Middle of Nowhere, 250 People Are Fending Off China
The weather can be wild and very little grows on Thitu, but Chinese ships are ever-present on the horizon
Romio Malaguit is among the many residents of Thitu Island intent on staying despite China’s growing presence near the island’s surrounding waters.

By Fruhlein Chrys EconarFollow
 | Photographs and additional reporting by Rosem Morton for The Wall Street Journal
Updated Dec. 2, 2023 12:24 am ET


From the remote speck of land they call home, the residents of Thitu Island have watched China’s presence creep closer, and grow more assertive, over the past decade. 

Boats belonging to China’s fishing militia regularly swarm the waters near Thitu, which lies in the South China Sea and is controlled by the Philippines. On pitch-dark nights, the Filipino islanders can see lights flicker on the horizon, emanating from a Chinese military base that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Thitu’s tiny civilian population of 255 people is on the front line of Manila’s efforts to fend off Beijing’s growing control over the South China Sea. China claims much of the strategic waterway, including Thitu, and accuses the Philippines of illegally occupying the island. 

Philippines soldiers are garrisoned on Thitu, but the country is relying in large part on a nonmilitary strategy to bolster its position: keeping civilians there, against all odds. 


Boats in China’s fishing militia are a regular sight from Thitu Island’s coast. As many as 45 vessels were spotted around the island in November.

There were no paved roads, cell towers or schools when the earliest settlers arrived two decades ago.
It’s important “that we can really project that the island is able to accommodate normal community life,” said Cmdr. Ariel Joseph Coloma, spokesman for the Philippine military’s Western Command, which is tasked with protecting the country’s interests in the waters where Thitu lies. That sends a clear message it is part of Philippines territory, he said.

Wi-Fi arrived in the past few years, and Thitu now has paved roads. Renovations are nearly complete on a decades-old airstrip, which will make it easier to get on and off the island, located about 300 miles from the Philippines mainland. Authorities are building a sheltered port that will accommodate bigger boats.

The government doles out rice, which must be shipped in. It is the island’s main employer, offering construction jobs and hiring locals for the upkeep of facilities such as Thitu’s water-filtration system and vegetable garden.


Many residents are subsistence fishermen who catch just enough to feed their families and occasionally sell to military personnel stationed on the island.

Fishermen have learned to avoid nearby fishing grounds where Chinese vessels now linger.

Daisy Cojamco tended the vegetable garden, which was started to augment the island's food supply. The yield is rationed among residents.

Family and friends celebrated the birthday of Mary Joy Gonzales, 15. Only two people have ever been born on Thitu, which has limited health services.

For the first time this year, a group of tourists visited Thitu and other spots the Philippines controls in the area—part of an effort by the local administration to spur development. Lawmakers, including the speaker of the House of Representatives, traveled to the island in October and pledged to increase funding for local projects such as a storm shelter for fishermen during typhoons and a solar power plant. 

Still, life on Thitu—known in the Philippines as Pag-asa—is far from easy. 

Very little grows on the scorching, nearly 81-acre island. A powerful cyclone in 2021 left a trail of destruction, tearing the roofs off homes and wrecking the local coast-guard station. The nearest major city is a two-to-three-day boat ride away. No commercial flights operate there, and getting on and off the island usually means hitching a ride with the Philippines military.

Thitu has a health clinic, with midwives and a nurse but no doctor. Women are advised to travel to the mainland for childbirth, and only two children have ever been born on the island.   

Then there are the security risks. Chinese militia boats have in recent years gathered around Thitu in large numbers—some 40 or 45 in November—lingering for days or weeks at a time, often backed up by Chinese coast-guard ships. Thitu fishermen no longer wander too far from their home shores, they said, because they know they are being watched and will likely be blocked. 





A trip to Thitu used to take days but now takes a few hours, because of the recently renovated airstrip where planes can land reliably.

Thitu residents often gather in spots where the free Wi-Fi connection is strongest.

Thitu's population is made up of civilians, local government workers and stationed military personnel.

Authorities are building a sheltered port for bigger boats. Construction on the island has previously drawn attention from China.

Tensions between the Philippines and China have soared this year at hot spots across the South China Sea. Chinese ships collided with Philippines vessels in October near a reef called Second Thomas Shoal. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has pushed back against Chinese maneuvers and doubled down on his country’s security alliance with the U.S.

The U.S. and Philippines militaries conducted joint air and maritime patrols in the South China Sea last week.

Residents of Thitu remember a time when Chinese boats weren’t a constant presence around the island. Vessels began showing up, persistently, after Beijing transformed the nearby Subi Reef starting around 2014, first into an artificial island and then a base, bristling with military hardware.

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The island’s first settlers in the early 2000s brought livestock including pigs and goats.

Fiery Cross Reef, one of several in the South China Sea that are occupied by China, as seen from an Armed Forces of the Philippines aircraft on maritime patrol.
Chinese coast guard and militia ships rest and refuel at Subi Reef, allowing them to spend longer periods in the area without having to return to ports in China. They linger close to some of the sandbars near Thitu, and Filipinos fishing in the area for tuna and mackerel have learned to avoid those spots, residents said.

“We’re a bit scared to go there now because their boats are there blocking the way,” said Reny Magbanua, one of Thitu’s first settlers.

The effort to foster a community on Thitu—which Manila has controlled since the 1970s—began two decades ago. At the time, just a small group of Filipino soldiers were posted on the island. In 2002, to strengthen the Philippines’s claims, the local administration sent 80 families to live there.

The families brought livestock with them, including goats and pigs, on a boat local officials dubbed “Noah’s Ark.” But back then, there were no facilities on Thitu: no cell towers or schools, and no reliable sources of food except for fish from the surrounding waters.

In 2003, the government launched a food-subsidy program, offering free rice and other provisions. Still, life was hard and most of the families eventually left.

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To make it more viable for families to live on Thitu, authorities built a school in 2012. People gradually trickled back in, often arriving for short-term construction work and staying.





Thitu's sole school serves children through junior high. Students have to finish senior high school, grades 11 and 12, on the Philippines mainland.

Thitu is building homestay accommodations for tourists as part of a local effort to boost the economy.

Maria Dacumos, far left, recalls there were very few women living in Thitu when she arrived in 2011.

Residents are still recovering from a cyclone that left a trail of destruction in 2021.

People had to be incentivized to stay, said Dina Balofiños, an official tasked with planning and development. “Nobody will choose to live there on their own because there’s no hospital, no shops, no regular transport,” she said.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
What does Thitu’s experience suggest about Beijing’s aims? Join the conversation below.

Thitu’s population has slowly inched upward despite the risks.

While out fishing in 2021, Larry Hugo said he was tailed by a Chinese coast-guard ship. Spooked, he stayed on land for two weeks and encouraged others to avoid the area. Now, few fishermen venture past the two sandbars closest to Thitu and their catch has suffered for it.

Still, Hugo said, he wouldn’t leave.

“This island is ours,” he said. “This is why we live here. This is why Filipinos are here.”


A Thitu resident sitting up in his bed that overlooks the beach.
Rosem Morton’s reporting was supported by the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.


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GPF: US-China, Philippines
« Reply #165 on: December 27, 2023, 08:35:42 AM »
December 27, 2023
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China and the Philippines Square Off
By: George Friedman
The Philippines has long been an important component of Washington’s alliance network in the Asia-Pacific. Its geography is such that Manila can help to make or break China’s access to the maritime transport corridors its export-oriented economy depends on. But that same geography has usually meant that the Philippines has maintained some semblance of balance between Beijing and Washington.

The status quo changed in 2022, when Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected president. He has pursued a much more pro-U.S. foreign policy, one best exemplified by an agreement this year that allows Washington to establish military bases in the country. Add to this the fact that Australia, also a U.S. ally, signed a similar agreement with Papua New Guinea, and China is left looking at a potential wall stretching from the Aleutian Islands to Japan to Australia built for no other reason than to contain its expansion, armed with entrenched artillery and missiles and several ports of call.

Since then, the question has been whether China would respond – and if so, how. Previous efforts in that regard included attempts to drive a wedge between the Philippines and the United States; they failed because the U.S. had more to offer the Philippines economically than China. Beijing is now trying a different approach. Chinese President Xi Jinping had many reasons to speak with U.S. President Joe Biden in California earlier this year, and one of them surely included ways to limit the threat of a potential U.S. blockade. Whatever was or was not agreed to in California clearly did not satisfy China, which has begun a campaign designed to seduce Manila and discourage it from honoring its military agreement with the U.S. It has also threatened to intrude on the Philippines at will, has reissued a territorial claim in the South China Sea that runs counter to international law, and has even had its aircraft close in on U.S. bombers in the region in an attempt to force the U.S. to reevaluate its position in the region.

To be clear, no combat has yet taken place. These are merely gestures in a region where gestures are common currency. But what is clear from these events is that no stable understanding was achieved on military matters or the South China Sea. China is signaling that it will not tolerate American bases in the Philippines. But the U.S. has just substantially strengthened its position against China and is in no position to back down voluntarily.

This is the kind of situation that threatens to escalate into something much more deadly. The prospect of war, however, depends on the military capabilities of the two belligerents. The U.S. Navy has always been more powerful than China’s, and its new land-based defensive and offensive positions in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea undermine China’s ability to mount a naval assault even further. (If nothing else, they limit China’s aggression by making the risk of defeat too expensive to bear.)

That said, it was believed that China’s economic problems and America’s preoccupation with Ukraine would force the two into an accommodation. Sometimes a negotiation requires a final gut check to make sure nothing is left on the table. Perhaps this is the case, but it's more likely that Beijing doesn’t believe the U.S. can solve its economic problems, and Washington doesn’t believe China wants a military accommodation.a

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GPF: China bullies Philippines' Coast Guard vessel near Scarborough Shoal
« Reply #167 on: February 12, 2024, 10:41:37 AM »
Chinese maneuvers. China’s coast guard said on Sunday that it expelled a Philippine coast guard vessel that had “illegally intruded” into waters near the Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing calls Huangyan Island, in the South China Sea. The Philippine coast guard accused the Chinese ship of performing dangerous maneuvers against its vessel, which was deployed earlier this month to patrol the contested area and ensure the safety of Philippine fishermen. China seized the shoal from the Philippines in 2012.


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Re: Philippines
« Reply #169 on: March 12, 2024, 10:39:39 AM »
By: Geopolitical Futures

Disputed resources. The Philippines is counting on the U.S. to support it as it moves forward with plans to explore the disputed South China Sea for oil and gas, Manila’s ambassador to Washington said. One option is to invite U.S. companies to participate in investment and development of the region’s resources, he said. In response to the ambassador’s remarks, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said its fellow claimants to the South China Sea’s resources should refrain from inviting in non-regional states.



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Re: Sure looks like Duterte was bought
« Reply #172 on: April 10, 2024, 06:26:19 AM »
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/marcos-says-he-s-horrified-by-duterte-sea-deal-with-china/ar-BB1ln7Fa?ocid=msedgntp&pc=DCTS&cvid=4842a59f281f4f2db703780edc46be0e&ei=10

I can't figure out Philippine politics but the landslide election of 2022 certainly was a game changer for the US coalition against Chinese expansionism.

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Re: Philippines
« Reply #173 on: April 10, 2024, 06:35:14 AM »
Back when Duterte was in office I commented here that, based upon his words and actions, I thought he was bought by the Chinese.

The deal here would seem to confirm that.

President Marcos now has an interesting little dilemma.  Clearly he needs to blow off this agreement with China AND BEGIN SENDING CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS, but then what is China's reaction?  What if it interdicts, claiming rights under the agreement?  What do we do then?


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FO: China ramps up fukkery with Philippines
« Reply #175 on: April 19, 2024, 06:17:56 PM »

(6) CHINA TO RAMP UP GRAY ZONE WARFARE IN MAY: China appears to be increasing its gray zone warfare activity around its neighbors ahead of a turbulent May.

4,600 Chinese “students” recently arrived in the Philippines’ Cagayan Province. The students applied to enroll at four private universities, but three of the four universities do not have any foreign students for the school year starting in June.

China will begin operating two new airlanes near Taiwan on May 16th, Taiwan opposes this as the airlines cross over Taiwanese airspace and nearly intersect their airlanes.

Why It Matters: Cagayan province will host the majority of the Balikatan exercise this month and will likely be subject to observation by the thousands of unenrolled Chinese “students.” China’s new airlanes will begin operation just before Taiwan inaugurates Lai Ching-te as its new President, potentially causing an international incident. We are likely to see increasingly blatant tactics following Lai’s inauguration and ahead of Japan’s annual exercise. – J.V.

===================

Arms for the Philippines. India delivered its first batch of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to the Philippines on Friday. Manila plans to deploy three batteries of the missile system along its coastal areas. The delivery is part of a $375 million deal signed in 2022.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2024, 06:19:39 PM by Crafty_Dog »

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US needs to recognize that Philippines is a Great Ally
« Reply #176 on: April 28, 2024, 04:38:49 AM »
https://amgreatness.com/2024/04/28/the-philippines-is-a-great-ally-and-the-u-s-needs-to-recognize-it/

The Philippines Is a Great Ally, and the U.S. Needs to Recognize It
Far greater U.S. involvement is necessary to stand with its Filipino ally. The U.S. response has been far from ideal and has failed to reassure Manilla, one of America’s oldest allies.

By James E. Fanell and Bradley A. Thayer
April 28, 2024
The alliance relationships of the U.S. are valuable for diplomatic, military, and economic reasons. Less often considered is that U.S. allies provide the invaluable service of showing when the U.S. is dead wrong. Right now, the Republic of the Philippines is showing the U.S. that its approach to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is in error. Washington’s strategic malpractice needs to be corrected. It needs to support its treaty ally, Manila, in the face of their mutual enemy, the PRC.

But it is not, at least not in substance that matters. For instance, the Philippines boycotted the 19th Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) meeting on April 21–23 in Qingdao, PRC. WPNS was founded in 1987 and includes 23 members and seven observer states to discuss maritime affairs and promote safe and responsible practices. Manila boycotted the meeting to signal to Beijing that the PRC’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea, and specifically at Second Thomas Shoal, is unacceptable. Missing the meeting sent an important message, something that Washington should have understood and supported.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration sent some significant signals as well. The most important of which is that it values engagement with the PRC over support for its treaty ally.

In the case of the WPNS, the U.S. not only attended the meeting in the absence of the Philippines but also dispatched the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Koehler, who had just assumed command less than three weeks prior. What is worse is that the U.S. participated in the passage of an updated 3.0 version of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea. This is a “rules of the road” agreement to assist states in avoiding incidents at sea that might escalate. This agreement sets the norms for navies operating in close quarters over disputed territories like Second Thomas Shoal. The PRC had input, as did the U.S., but the Philippines did not. By establishing these norms, the U.S. committed the Philippines and thereby fettered its military’s response to the PRC’s territorial expansion.

This entire episode exposes the Biden administration’s determination to engage with the enemy of both the Philippines and the U.S.—the PRC. Rewarding enemies and punishing friends is the opposite of what Machiavelli advised, and if not corrected, will ensure that the U.S. has a surplus of enemies and no allies.

The record of the PRC’s duplicity and aggressiveness in the South China Sea is well established, and clashes are worsening at Second Thomas Shoal. Despite the “rules of the road” established by WPNS, the PRC violates them on a regular basis to coerce the Philippines. Beijing is now able to assert direct military force to seize Filipino territory.

Due to the incompetence of the Obama administration, the PRC was able to build seven installations in the Spratly Islands starting in 2013, three of which are the size of Pearl Harbor and equipped with 10,000-foot runways and pier space to equip all the PLA Navy’s (PLAN) aircraft carriers. The PRC’s rhetoric is becoming more belligerent and more frequent. In the last week of December 2023, Wu Qian, a spokesperson for the PRC’s Ministry of Defense, said that “China will not turn a blind eye to the Philippine’s repeated provocations and harassment” while calling upon the U.S. to stop its meddling in the issue.

In fact, that is the last thing the U.S. needs to do. Far greater U.S. involvement is necessary to stand with its Filipino ally. The U.S. response has been far from ideal and has failed to reassure Manilla, one of America’s oldest allies. The four Filipino bases announced for use by the U.S. on April 3, 2023, two in Cagayan and one each in Isabela and Palawan, are important steps forward. But they are insufficient given the immediacy of the threat from Beijing.

Four more major steps are necessary. First, the strategic situation is that Manila faces the PRC, the world’s second-largest military power, and requires its treaty ally, the United States, to choose a side—Beijing’s or Manila’s. The U.S. must stand unequivocally with the Philippines in every respect—with unwavering diplomatic, military, and economic support.

Second, Washington must acknowledge that the defense of the Philippines is linked to the defense of Taiwan. Taiwan occupies key geopolitical real estate, as Beijing and Washington’s military planners recognize. For the U.S. and its allies, Taiwan is a cork in the bottle of the first island chain, and so prevents the PLAN from easily accessing the Pacific, from defending the PRC’s ports from mining, and sustaining the the critical Sea Lines of Communication from the East and South China Seas. As such, bases in Taiwan and the Philippines can serve as important deterrents to the PRC’s aggression, and should deterrence fail, each would have a role to play in reinforcing the other.

Third, working with its Filipino ally and perhaps other allies like Australia and Japan, the U.S. needs to conduct the maritime equivalent of the Berlin Airlift to ensure that regular supplies flow to the Filipino presence on Second Thomas Shoal and the PRC’s coercive attempts fail as Stalin’s did in 1948-1949. This time, though, given the geography, the airlift must be a sealift, something that highlights the low numbers of U.S. Navy ships and the deficiencies of America’s maritime shipbuilding industry.

Fourth, successfully breaking the back of the PRC’s coercive attempts at Second Thomas Shoal would be the first stage of a rollback campaign headed by the U.S., including the Philippines, to apply countervailing pressure on Beijing and work with its allies to enforce international law in the South China Sea as expressed in the 2002 Declaration on a Code of Conduct and the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration decision. For far too long, Beijing has gotten away with aggression in the South China Sea at no cost.

The risk is acute for U.S. national security. In baseball, you either win or lose. So too the U.S. either supports its allies or its enemies. Machiavelli’s advice is clear: reward friends and punish enemies. The Biden administration has reversed this age-old wisdom and is instead destroying the U.S. alliance system. This must change immediately, given the urgency of the PRC threat. Decades of stability in the Indo-Pacific have depended upon the U.S. extended deterrent, which in turn depends upon U.S. credibility and its allies belief in that credibility. The credibility of the U.S. extended deterrent is being tested by Beijing. Now is the time for the U.S. to signal strong support for the Philippines.

James E. Fanell and Bradley A. Thayer are authors of Embracing Communist China: America’s Greatest Strategic Failure.

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WSJ: US-Philippines alliance strengthening
« Reply #177 on: April 29, 2024, 06:50:06 AM »
https://www.wsj.com/world/asia/the-dark-horse-alliance-racing-forward-to-take-on-china-b4949625?mod=latest_headlines

Lots of pictures in the story



The Dark-Horse Alliance Racing Forward to Take On China
A U.S. charm offensive, a new leader in the Philippines and forceful Chinese actions have helped forge a new era of ties between Washington and Manila

April 29, 2024 8:00 am ET

Four years ago, the U.S. and its oldest ally in Asia were close to breaking up.

The Philippines had declared it wanted to exit a cornerstone defense pact between the countries. Then-President Rodrigo Duterte favored a realignment toward Beijing.

Today, the alliance is at its strongest in decades. The striking turnaround is the result of a U.S. charm offensive, a new leader in Manila and forceful Chinese actions against the Philippines in the South China Sea.

Some 16,000 American and Filipino military personnel are training in annual exercises called Balikatan, which began on April 22 and will feature America’s Himars rocket launcher and Stinger antiaircraft missiles. The goal is to make sure they can smoothly operate side-by-side if they have to go to war together.

Earlier this month, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.made his second visit to the White House in less than a year. Days before that, navy ships and aircraft from the U.S., Japan, Australia and the Philippines held joint drills in the South China Sea—a strong show of force in support of Manila. Just weeks prior, on a trip to the Philippines, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken lauded what he called an extraordinary expansion in ties, echoing his counterpart Enrique Manalo, who said: “We’ve been on hyperdrive over the past year or so.”

The shift marks a win for the Biden administration’s strategy to counter China by shoring up America’s alliances.

“China continues to overplay its hand and drive Manila right into the arms of Washington,” said Zack Cooper, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute whose research focuses on U.S. strategy in Asia. Still, he said he is surprised by how quickly the relationship has accelerated in a short period.


The U.S. gained access to four additional Philippine military bases last year, taking the total to nine. A number of them are at locations that would be significant if a conflict were to break out in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, two major flashpoints in Asia. The bases aren’t U.S.-controlled, but they are sites the American military would seek to use during hostilities to disperse its forces, launch aircraft and missiles, and complicate Beijing’s calculations.

Washington is pouring tens of millions of dollars into upgrading runways and building warehouses, fuel storage and barracks at the sites, some of which are fairly basic. The Biden administration is seeking $128 million more for construction.

The sites represent efforts by the two sides to build out places where they can operate and exercise together, Adm. John Aquilino, head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said in remarks to reporters last week. “And then ultimately, if need be, and the mutual-defense treaty were to be activated, those are places where we would fight together,” he said. 


Air bases along China’s southeastern coast facing Taiwan have undergone significant infrastructure upgrades in recent years. Analysts say these changes are a sign of Beijing’s preparations for a conflict over Taiwan. Photo Illustration: Adam Adada

That is valuable because America has only a few operating bases in the region, said Cooper of the American Enterprise Institute. In a conflict, its well-known facilities such as Kadena Air Base in Japan and Andersen Air Force Base in the U.S. territory of Guam would likely be targets of Chinese attack, he said.

“The real challenge for the U.S. is: How do you diversify away from the handful of facilities that we’ve used in Asia over decades?” he said.

Cooper said the Philippines is a perfect option because of its location in the center of the first island chain, referring to a stretch of territory from the Japanese archipelago through Taiwan to the Philippines and the South China Sea.


U.S. forces are getting more familiar with the Philippine military sites via a busy schedule of drills. Participating in the Balikatan exercises are a group of U.S. Marines designed to rapidly move forward in a conflict with China and hop from island to island. Members of the Marine Littoral Regiment will train on Philippine islands less than 100 miles from Taiwan.

In another strong signal, the U.S. Army’s newest midrange-missile launcher arrived in the Philippines this month for its first Indo-Pacific outing. From the northern Philippines, the weapon system, called Typhon, could reach targets including Taiwan, Chinese bases in the South China Sea, sites along the Chinese mainland coast and even some military infrastructure deeper inside mainland territory, said Collin Koh, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

“What to me is surprising is the choice of the first deployment—it’s actually the Philippines instead of so-called much closer allies in Asia like Japan,” said Koh. “We are seeing a rather unprecedented reinvigoration of U.S.-Philippines defense relations.”

That process has unfolded especially rapidly over the past year. China has made it increasingly difficult for the Philippines to resupply a military outpost Manila maintains in the South China Sea, on a reef Beijing also claims. Chinese coast guard and maritime militia ships have collided with Philippine resupply boats and blasted them with water cannons, injuring Filipino personnel on two occasions last month.


The Philippines is pushing back by broadcasting Chinese tactics to the world and drawing closer to the U.S. Washington in return has shown strong support to make the case it is a reliable ally, to deter China from escalating further and to ensure the South China Sea remains open for business. 


“For decades, the alliance had been rather moribund,” said Jay Batongbacal, director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea in the Philippines. “Now, because of the way that China has been asserting itself in the South China Sea, this has given an opportunity to the Philippines to draw on the alliance and leverage it for developing its own defense capabilities.”

The Philippines military—long focused on internal security operations—is finally getting the training and experience it needs for external defense, he said. 

China’s 2012 seizure of a South China Sea site has weighed heavily on the U.S.-Philippines alliance. American officials were involved behind the scenes in negotiations during the weekslong standoff between Chinese and Philippine ships over Scarborough Shoal. When Beijing took control of the site, Manila felt the U.S. hadn’t done enough to defend its ally.


At the time, the U.S. also declined to say whether the countries’ mutual-defense treaty covered an attack in the South China Sea, deepening distrust in the Philippines where many believe U.S. equivocation emboldened China. In Washington, officials worried that Manila, counting on U.S. support, might make a mistake or take an overzealous step, leaving the U.S. to fight China.

Relations deteriorated further when Rodrigo Duterte came to power in the Philippines in 2016. Duterte was deeply distrustful of the U.S., crimped military exercises between the two and stalled U.S. upgrades of Philippine military sites. He also underplayed his country’s differences with Beijing in the South China Sea, where China was turning reefs into military bases.


Filipino fishermen in wooden boats sail past a Chinese coast-guard ship. PHOTO: TED ALJIBE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY I
MAGES
As the U.S. began to see China as its No. 1 threat, the Trump administration turned to fix some of the long-festering grievances. Washington stated clearly in 2019 that the mutual-defense treaty applied to an attack on the Philippines in the South China Sea—a position the Biden administration has since repeated dozens of times.

Marcos’s 2022 election presented an opening—and the U.S. went for it. President Biden met Marcos on the sidelines of a United Nations event a few months later, marking the first of seven meetings to date between Marcos and either Biden or U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. A parade of U.S. officials has made its way to the Philippines since 2022.

Koh, from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the Biden administration is trying to make the most of Marcos’s time in office, unsure of how political shifts in Washington and Manila might change the dynamic in the future.

“You want to make sure everything is in place such that you could future proof the relationship,” he said.

Peter Landers contributed to this article.

Write to Niharika Mandhana at niharika.mandhana@wsj.com

U.S.-China Tensions
Tracking the complicated relationship of the world's two largest economies



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Crafty_Dog

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« Reply #179 on: May 07, 2024, 05:42:35 PM »
The Philippine National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense, and Department of Foreign Affairs released letters rebutting the Chinese claim to a “gentleman’s agreement” involving each of them. The NSA and Defense Secretary also revealed that they ceased contact with the embassy in 2023.
The Philippine Coast Guard will not retaliate with water cannons against the Chinese Coast Guard lest they risk escalating tensions further, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced over the weekend.

Crafty_Dog

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« Reply #180 on: May 08, 2024, 02:49:46 PM »

(5) PHILIPPINES FAR LEFT TARGETING U.S. AUDIENCE: A U.S.-based Far Left media website published a missive from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which intends to diminish U.S. support for the Philippines.

The NDFP is a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolutionary umbrella group which used the blog post to denounce the U.S. alliance with the Philippines against China. The post decried alleged U.S. efforts to turn Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., into a “new Zelensky.” The post also demanded the U.S. leave the Philippines.

Why It Matters: The irony is that the NDFP accuses the United States of seeking to colonize the Philippines when China aims to actually take Filipino territory by armed force if necessary. China is using the NDFP to drive an anti-U.S. message within the Philippines, which is also now targeting U.S. audiences. It’s another good example of international solidarity among foreign Far Left revolutionary groups and U.S.-based groups. – M.S.

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Embassy personnel from Japan and Sweden will join the Philippines’ 100-boat civilian mission on May 15th to counter China’s presence in the Scarborough Shoal.

Crafty_Dog

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FO:
« Reply #181 on: May 09, 2024, 02:40:08 PM »
73% of Filipinos want increased military action in the South China Sea to assert dominance over territory, according to the Filipino state survey service OCTA.

Crafty_Dog

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« Reply #182 on: May 10, 2024, 07:52:23 AM »
The Philippine National Security Council is calling for the Department of Foreign Affairs to expel Chinese diplomats over a supposed phone call between the Chinese Embassy and Philippine officials on China’s “new model” for the Spratly Islands.

Crafty_Dog

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FO: China esclating fukkery around Scarborough Shoal
« Reply #183 on: May 13, 2024, 09:18:46 AM »


China is sending a large force to block the Philippines’ 100-boat civilian mission to the Scarborough Shoal. Ato Ino, the organizer of the mission, said they would continue on. The Philippine Coast Guard said they will provide an escort to the civilian mission.



Crafty_Dog

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« Reply #186 on: June 04, 2024, 07:31:02 AM »
(5) FILIPINO SERVICEMEN AIM THEIR GUNS AT THE CCG: China is accusing Filipino troops stationed on the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on the Second Thomas Shoal of aiming their guns at members of the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) attempting to intercept a food supply airdropped near the Sierra Madre. The initial event occurred on 19 May, but both sides are publicizing it now.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs officer initially denied the claims before the AFP’s Chief of Staff said it was inadvertent but that the servicemen had a right to defend themselves.
Video of the incident shows two Chinese Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) driving erratically before one of the RHIBs hits the Filipino recovery boat. Then, all the Filipino personnel start yelling and pointing at the Chinese.

Since the incident, China has doubled its People’s Liberation Army Navy presence, maintained the CCG vessel presence, and reduced its maritime militia presence by almost 20% in the South China Sea and around the disputed shoals.

Why It Matters: The AFP troops likely intentionally aimed their weapons at the CCG members attempting to destroy their food. Using the commonly accepted lethal force triad of capability, opportunity, and intent, the Filipino troops just authorized China to use lethal force at the lowest level. – J.V.

Crafty_Dog

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« Reply #187 on: June 06, 2024, 08:36:15 AM »
If we actually do this it is a good thing.  Not sure why it is the Filipinos announcing this though.

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Support for Manila. The United States will deploy assets to support the Philippines in “upholding its sovereign rights” in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard announced. The move is in response to a new Chinese policy authorizing its own coast guard to detain foreigners without trial for up to 60 days for “illegally crossing” its borders. The total number and type of vessels the U.S. will deploy was not disclosed.

Crafty_Dog

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Chinese navy sails through Filipino waters
« Reply #188 on: June 07, 2024, 09:12:50 AM »
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/china-sails-warships-through-u-s-ally-s-territorial-sea/vi-BB1nNCdw?ocid=msedgntp&pc=HCTS&cvid=d0d5391bd76848d8981b737ed28cef91&ei=9#details

FO: China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted a small boat interdiction exercise in the Spratly Islands with a rifle and grenade launcher-armed crew. This is a response to the Philippine Marines aiming firearms at Chinese personnel.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2024, 10:00:26 AM by Crafty_Dog »

Crafty_Dog

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Philippines to China: Fizz off!
« Reply #189 on: June 10, 2024, 08:01:49 AM »
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/philippines-rejects-absurd-beijing-demand-over-south-china-sea/ar-BB1nSqsp?ocid=msedgntp&pc=HCTS&cvid=4d049c785f114be9a8ac75fa553ea00d&ei=9

====================

FO on the same:

China told the Philippines that it would allow some resupply missions as long as the Philippines notified the Chinese ahead of time. The Philippines rejected the offer with numerous public statements. (China previously offered a very similar arrangement, which the Philippines laughed off and provided few public rebuttals. However, China went on to take coercive actions, claiming that the previous offer was the standard. We are likely to see this repeated despite the Philippines’ numerous public rebuttals. – J.V.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2024, 08:13:45 AM by Crafty_Dog »

Crafty_Dog

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FO: Pres. Marcos: "Not backing down from war"
« Reply #190 on: June 13, 2024, 05:14:53 PM »
(7) MARCOS: OUR ANCESTORS DID NOT BACK DOWN FROM WAR: China and the Philippines are continuously provoking each other in the South China Sea ahead of the June 15th Chinese Coast Guard law arrest authorization. Meanwhile, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. used his Independence Day speech to call for Filipinos to defend their territory because “Our ancestors did not back down from war.”

China sent three Type 055 cruisers and one Type 052C destroyer to the South China Sea near Sabina Shoal to conduct multiple drills, including land bombardment, replenishment-at-sea, and “sea assault” drills. The Philippines conducted its first-ever flag-raising ceremony on Sabina Shoal during these drills to celebrate Independence Day.

Troops aboard the BRP Sierra Madre were practicing to “repel boarders” while they were surrounded by eight People’s Liberation Army Navy, five Chinese Coast Guard, and 37 Maritime Militia vessels, according to the Philippine Spokesman for the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
National Security Adviser Eduardo Año declared the government would back Filipino territorial defense “despite the complexities and uncertainties of today’s world.”
Why It Matters: Marcos has increasingly clarified his position from vague suggestions of “worrisome eventualities” to explicitly preparing for war. A war for the Philippines would activate the mutual defense treaty with the United States. A war in the South China Sea would also cut off an enormous amount of global trade and oil. – J.V.

Crafty_Dog

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« Reply #191 on: June 14, 2024, 08:49:31 AM »
Atin Ito, the Filipino group responsible for the civilian resupply mission around the Spratly Islands last month, intends to normalize their large-scale resupply missions. (This behavior would routinely risk arrest and confrontation with the Chinese Coast Guard and Navy. However, it would also demonstrate a civilian commitment to Philippine sovereignty over its Exclusive Economic Zone. – J.V.)