The US decision to station forces in the Philippines could have dangerous repercussions. Beijing may enact economic sanctions after Manila invited in US troops in response to an escalating territorial dispute over the South China Sea.
Dr. Pak-Nung Wong of the City University of Hong Kong told RT that the Philippines is merely cashing in on America’s move.
“At the international level, the Philippines knows that the US has definitely returned to Asia – refocusing its military and security deployment in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, targeting China and Iran as the primary security concern,” he said.
“At the regional level, the Philippines also sees that there are recent changes in the regional politics, particularly in Taiwan, where Mr. Ma Ying-jeou and Kuomingtang [party] administration were successfully re-elected. That means Beijing and Taipei would have a more stable relationship, especially in terms of economic integration across the Strait in the coming years,” Wong explained.
The scientist also noted that the Philippines has realized that the US will need a more reliable ally in the Asia-Pacific region and is acting accordingly.
“The Philippines is willing to lend its hand to the American ally for that kind of particular security concern that the US is having in the Asia-Pacific region,” he explained.
Another important factor in the unfolding political game, Wong continued, is public opinion in China.
“I have already noticed there’s a tremendous pressure from the public opinion within China that’s asking and urging Chinese government to take a very tough position towards the Philippines. However, I think that the Chinese government should be a bit more careful about these internal demands,” he said.
“So I think that the Philippines is doing all that to try to get the best out of these China-US relations,” Dr. Pak-Nung Wong concluded.
Meanwhile, a squadron of Russia’s Pacific Fleet warships en route from the Gulf of Aden, including the Udaloy-class anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, entered the main port of Manila on Tuesday on a business visit. It is the first time Russian naval forces have paid a visit to the Philippines in 96 years.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun, lead researcher for political and strategic affairs at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, thinks the US move extends beyond the political arena.
“The US has claimed that this is about maintaining freedom of navigation and this is partly the interest of the US. But if we look deeper, this is not only about maintaining freedom of navigation. This is about counterbalancing the rights of China,” he explained.
“This is not about economic rise, but it is also about the rise of military. The US has been watching this development very closely.”
Chachavalpongpun also said that US plans in Asia may soon extend to Singapore and Thailand.