US to form military alliance with Philippines to check China

The United States is set to announce details of a new alliance with the Philippines and four new military bases on the island nation as it attempts to curb China’s expansion in the South China Sea.

The US is keen to rekindle a former friendship with the Philippines, 30 years after they were told to leave, and plug a gap in what it believes could be a potential political flashpoint near Taiwan.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is meeting Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Junior in Manila today to discuss US military bases in the country so they can monitor the South China Sea and around Taiwan.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the G20 Summit in Indonesia in November last year to talk about the One-China issue.

Related news

Biden acknowledged the One-China policy of Taiwan as a province and part of the Chinese mainland, recognized by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution in 1971, and another 181 countries. He also promised there would be no “new Cold War” adding he did not believe China would invade Taiwan.

Yet these latest moves appear to contradict Biden’s earlier promises. But, with the trillions invested in the US military, it appears they have to be at war with someone otherwise the money would be wasted.

Award-winning Australian journalist John Pilger warned of the Coming War on China in a documentary and highlighted the hundreds of military bases surrounding China, in the South China Sea.

US to form military alliance with Philippines to check China | News by Thaiger

The US is seeking access to bases close to Taiwan, with three of them potentially located on Luzon, an island in the northern Philippines.

Gregory B Poling, director of the Southeast Asia programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said no contingency in the South China Sea does not require access to the Philippines.

“The US is not looking for permanent bases. It’s about places, not bases.”

This is not a return to the 1980s when the Philippines had 15,000 US troops and two of the largest American military bases in Asia at Clark Field, and Subic Bay.

In 1991 the Philippine government under Ferdinand Marcos called time on its old colonial masters to further cement both democracy and independence.

The Vietnam War was long over, the Cold War was winding down, and China did not have a strong military presence.

Now, Ferdinand Marcos is reportedly worried about China’s presence in the South China Sea and wants a US alliance despite words to the contrary last month.

Since 2014 China has built 10 artificial island bases, including one at Mischief Reef, deep inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Herman Kraft, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said relations between Manila and Beijing had been free of major problems around that time.

“We had a live-and-let-live situation in the South China Sea. But in 2012 they tried to seize control of Scarborough Shoal. Then in 2014, they began building the islands. The land grab by China changed the relationship.”

Former Philippine Ambassador to the US, Jose Cuisia Jr., said…

“We have very limited capability against the threat from China. The Chinese have repeatedly broken promises not to militarise their new South China Sea bases.

“The Chinese have militarised those features and that puts more of our territory under threat. Only the US has the power to stop them. The Philippines cannot do it alone.”

Not everyone in the Philippines is happy with the proposed arrangement.

Renato Reyes, secretary general of New Patriotic Alliance, highlighted the past history of violence and abuse by US troops in the Philippines post World War II until the 1990s. There are an estimated 15,000 children left with their Filipina mothers when their American fathers went home.

“We have a long history of inequality in our relationship. The Philippines has been forced to shoulder the social costs. There’s a history of rape, child abuse, and of toxic waste.”

Washington is asking for access to several new locations, some facing the South China Sea, others facing north towards Taiwan. Unofficial reports point to options in Cagayan, Zambales, Palawan, and Isabela.

The first one faces Taiwan, the second the Scarborough shoal, and the third the Spratly Islands. Any new US facilities will be inside existing Philippine bases. US troops will come in small groups and on rotation.

Poling reckons the move will deter further territorial expansion by China in the South China Sea, while also providing a place for the US to watch Chinese military movements around Taiwan.

Beijing is understandably suspicious of any agreement between Manila and Washington and in today’s Global Times an editorial stated that the US is “setting a trap for the Philippines” and “trying to push the Philippines to the frontline of confrontation with China.”

Reyes added that the Philippines is caught in the middle and slammed his nation’s colonial mentality.

“It still looks to the United States as its big brother.”

World News

Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

Related Articles