The US and the Philippines’ Military Agreement Sends a Warning to China – 5 Key Things to Know

Yves here. Below is a an example of narrative control, China flavored. The article starts by depicting Taiwan as independent, when only 13 countries recognize Taiwan and the US is not among them. Hence the entire framing of China “threatening” Taiwan is dubious. Then consider that prior to Nancy Pelosi’s visit and other US actions, China stance had been a vague aspiration for integration by 2049. A lot can happen in two plus decades.

The US officialdom has taken recently to claiming that China intends to invade Taiwan by 2027. As Brian Berletic pointed out, even if China intended to go maximalist, all it would need to do is blockade Taiwan. The island depends on imports for food and fuel.

Some who contend that China sent the infamous balloon to the US in order to troll us point out that China was not at all keen to have Tony Blinken visit (scheduled for February 5 and 6) particularly in light of the US-Philippines base deal. That made it clear than any Biden promises about reducing US-China dealings were empty.

Note that all three authors have received funding from the Minerva Research Initiative, the Department of Defense, and the Army Research Office for “part of the work mentioned in here,” yet piously claim their views are their own. That is likely true because only those ideologically aligned with the party line would get backing.

I am sure readers will have more to add but I felt it necessary to start with the obvious.

By Michael A. Allen, Professor of Political Science, Boise State University; Carla Martinez Machain, Professor of Political Science, University at Buffalo; and Michael E. Flynn, Associate Professor of Political Science, Kansas State University. Originally published at The Conversation

The United States and the Philippines announced on Feb. 2, 2023, that the U.S. is expanding its military presence across more military bases in the Southeast Asian country, giving the U.S. a potential advantage in its efforts to thwart China’s possible efforts to take control of Taiwan.

The Philippines’ most northern island sits about 118 miles (190 kilometers) from Taiwan.

While Taiwan, an island off the coast of China, considers itself an independent country, China maintains that it is a breakaway province it wants to again control and has increased its threats to move to overtake it in recent months.

We are political science scholars and U.S. foreign policy experts who recently published a book about U.S. overseas military deployments. Here is what this new agreement means for the U.S. foreign policy and rising military tensions in East and Southeast Asia.

1. The Agreement Expands US Influence

The military agreement is an expansion of a 2014 deal called theEnhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

The new pact signed this week allows the U.S. to access four additional military bases in the Philippines and maintain equipment on those bases. In addition, the agreement calls for the U.S. to spend US$82 million on infrastructure investments at the five bases currently in use.

Now, the U.S. will have access to nine base sites in the Philippines, representing its most expansive military presence in the country in 30 years.

The deal follows an October 2022 announcement that the U.S. was giving $100 million to the military in the Philippines.

2. It Sends a Warning to China

In recent years, China has increased its overseas military presence in the South China Sea and has begun expanding its military footprint in other regions, including countries in Africa, where it previously had none. China continues to seek newforeign locations to host its own troops.

In 2022, for example, China signed a new military deal with the Solomon Islands, leading to speculation that it could eventually establish a permanent military base there.

The U.S. also announced on Feb. 2, 2023, that it has opened an embassy in the Solomon Islands after not having one for 30 years.

While U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has said that this new deal with the Philippines is necessary for training and integrating the U.S. and Philippine troops, it also increases the United States’ ability to respond to regional threats.

Having U.S. forces on the northern island of Luzon, in particular, would increase the United States’ ability to deter Chinese threats toward Taiwan. This expansion of military access also allows the U.S. to more easily and quickly respond to Chinese aggression in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea.

China swiftly responded to the military agreement news. Mao Ning, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said on Feb. 2, 2023, that the move would “escalate tensions and endanger peace and stability in the region.”

While most Filipinos have expressed positive views of the U.S., some people in Manila protest the military announcement.Jes Aznar/Getty Images

3. US and Philippines Have a Long Military History

After the U.S. won the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Philippines became a U.S. colony until its independence in 1946.

The Philippines went on to host tens of thousands of U.S. troopsthroughout the Cold War. However, widespread public protestsover the U.S. presence led the Philippines to demand the U.S.leave all its bases in 1992.

Despite this departure, the U.S. remained active in counterterrorism operations in the Philippines. In 1998, the two governments signed an agreement that again permitted U.S. military personnel to be in the country. In 2014, the countries brokered another agreement that gave U.S. forces access to five Philippine military bases.

The Philippines’ former President Rodrigo Duterte, who served from 2016 through 2022, threatened to end the military agreements between the U.S. and the Philippines multiple times. The agreements endured through his six-year term.

The 2022 election of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. opened the possibility of further security cooperation between the U.S. and the Philippines, as the new president showed a willingness to rekindle a diplomatic relationship.

Vice President Kamala Harris said in 2022 that an attack on the Philippines would compel the U.S. to defend the country.

The United Nations, the U.S. and human rights advocacy groups, meanwhile, have all recognized that there are serious, credible concerns about how the Philippines’ government treats its own citizens.

The police have killed thousands of civilians during raids as part of the country’s war on drugs over the past several years. The Philippines has also become an increasingly dangerous place to be a journalist and to express independent political beliefs.

While this may cause concern among human rights activists, it is unlikely to influence the United States’ military decisions.

We have found in our research that the U.S. tends to soften its concerns about human rights in deployment hosts when security issues become more prominent.

Austin announced the latest military deal from Quezon City, in the Philippines’ capital region, and noted on Feb. 2, 2023, that the two countries “shared values of freedom, democracy, and human dignity.”

5. Public Opinion Will Matter

Given the complicated history of the U.S. and the Philippines, it is important to know what Filipinos think of the U.S. military’smaintaining a formal presence there today.

We annually surveyed approximately 1,000 Filipinos from 2018 through 2020 about how they view the United States’ and China’s influence in their country.

Generally, solid majorities view U.S. influence as favorable, with some variation over the years we surveyed. Very few of our respondents had negative views.

We also asked them about China’s influence in their country. People’s responses to this question were far less positive. These responses also indicate views of China are becoming even less favorable over time.

U.S. and Chinese competition, meanwhile, for influence in the Pacific region is on the rise.

In coming years, part of this competition will center on gaining the support of host country populations when the U.S. or China tries to set up a military base. How effective the U.S. and its military are in building goodwill will in large part influence the outcome.

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  1. Stephen

    Thanks for this.

    I wonder if more bases is such a great military idea. I get the political signalling it implies but from a military perspective I question if it just spreads forces more thinly with very little advantage. A few more troops here, a few aircraft there. Not sure it helps too much.

    Of course, it does have the virtue of creating service contracts for facilities and so forth with military contractors who may be missing out on arms spending. Especially since Afghanistan ramped down. Realise locals do much of the actual work but there must be lots of opportunity for margin.

    I have no way of knowing but I question the veracity of these surveys. Could not easily find the exact question nor who funded these surveys!

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The whole strategic concept behind forward bases is far more complex than is usually discussed, especially in island archipelagos. A badly chosen base can end up being little more than a hostage to your opponent if they can isolate it. And of course technology changes the calculations. Cheap and plentiful ballistic and cruise missiles can turn what seemed impregnable bases into little more than sitting ducks. Ideally, you want large, self supporting (water/food/fuel) bases mixed with what the marines call ‘lilipads’ – small bases that can be quickly turned into major ones, even if on a temporary basis. Size also matters – its far harder to hit a base if it consists of hardened structures scattered over a wide area than it ifs all crammed into a small island (this is why China’s artificial islands are really a very bad idea).

      So far as I can see, current US thinking is moving away from mobility (probably because they know they can’t rely on naval domination), to networks of tripwire bases designed to slow down an enemy while a build up occurs using larger ‘deep’ bases. The Japanese have had a similar change – they used to emphasise amphibious mobility, now they are looking more closely at small bases using smart weaponry rather than tanks or artillery for defence.

      The politics matters too of course. In a remote poor area a military base can become the most important element of the local economy. or in some circumstances it can be catastrophic (bringing in nothing but pollution and disease) – hence the very mixed views among Okinawans about the US bases there. Politicians are usually far more aware than geopolitical thinkers about how this can result in very complex outcomes.

      Related to the above, the US clearly sees the advantage in the Pacific of dual-use bases. If you have a base with both PH aircraft and US aircraft, an attack on it is a declaration of war on two countries, not one. The situation in Asia is getting far more complex because you don’t just have the US trying to bind in its ‘allies’ in the region, you also have a series of bilateral agreements taking place between major players such as ROK, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Its all getting very complex and more reminiscent of pre-WWI Europe than Cold War Europe. Anyone who insists this is all about the US vs China is not paying attention. Most countries in the region have been preparing for a long time for the return to the historical norm in the western Pacific whereby China dominates and the smaller nations struggle for their own regional interests, with the US being just an occasional (if very large) elephant that wanders in at random.

      1. Stephen

        Thanks. That is insightful.

        I think your last remarks imply that countries in the region are smart and thinking ahead. They understand that the continued rise of China is inevitable and that the days of the US post WW2 dominance in the region are waning. Or even over already. So selective cooperation to ensure their security makes sense. No point in antagonising the US or China in the process either.

        If so, they seem far more thoughtful than some Eastern European countries which seem to assume a US protective umbrella that will last for ever. That seems unlikely and I fear for Poland when inevitably Germany recovers her strength as Russia already arguably has. Recognising that these changes will not occur overnight.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Partially its thinking ahead, partially I think its just hedging your bets, doing what sensible small countries have always done. The problem for the eastern European countries is that they simply don’t have the institutional history to think ‘deeply’ about strategic issues, they are still feeling their way and making more mistakes than they should. The Japanese and Thais (just to take two examples) have centuries of reasonably consistent strategising, and usually without the pesky issue of democratic rulers or transparent societies to bother the people making the real decisions. I know people often ascribe this to cultural issues, but I don’t really buy into this – each country is different and its equivalent of the ‘deep state’ (and every country has one to some degree or another) has its particular strengths and weaknesses and hang ups.

          For a casual geopolitical watcher like me, one thing that has always been striking is how determined even the ‘minor’ States in the region has been to maintain (if at all possible) an independent military deterrent, whether by developing an indigenous industry, or just judiciously spreading out their purchases to ensure minimal dependent on any one bloc/country. It’s also interesting just how focused most are on having some level of Blue Water navy and long distance strike so many of those countries are. Just look at ROK, with its prospective aircraft carriers and existing ballistic missile submarines (not that they could ever be used for nukes, no sirreee).

          Ultimately, its down to always having a Plan B. For most small countries, Plan A is to let someone else do the fighting for you (the Gulf States are geniuses at this), Plan B is to make yourself look a much less tasty and vulnerable morsel than the country beside you by making everyone know you have a gun. For the Philippines, they must be very aware that they are increasingly looking like the weak kid in the cellblock and if they don’t pick a strong best friend they are in deep trouble.

          1. Stephen

            That’s fair. Hedging bets is the better way to describe it.

            Playing large powers off against each other is a smart strategy if you can make it work without doing it so well that they end up ganging up on you!

            Needs maturity and a non ideological approach to make it work too. Hard to do in recently independent, newly democratic states in Eastern Europe.

          2. Alex Cox

            ‘The weak kid in the cellblock?”

            Are you saying the Filipinos are prisoners? Having got rid of the American bases a while back, can’t they remain neutral?

            If they’re forced to pick a side, does that imply that the world is nothing but a violent prison, and nation states the prisoners? Given Latin American refusal to take sides in Ukraine, I don’t think this is so… Not yet, anyway.

            1. Polar Socialist

              I assume PK is saying that until all the hardware Philippines have recently ordered (3 submarines + 11 surface combatants) arrive (a decade, perhaps) they need to look like they have somebody looking after them.

              They’re not as much picking a side as they are balancing between their own capability versus others in the area versus USA versus China.

              When all those vessels are operational and in service, Philippines may tune down the US participation a notch or two. We’ll see.

              And many people would say that the rules based order indeed makes the world nothing but a violent prison, and nation states the prisoners. It’s almost like the majority of the countries are looking at war in Ukraine and calculate that two gangs in the prison allows more room for neutrality and security.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              Sorry to go overboard with the metaphors. I simply mean that geopolitics is a rough game, and if you are economically/militarily weaker than anyone else in your neighbourhood, you have little choice but to either try to play a game of balancing other powers against each other, or just go all in and try to pick a powerful friend and hope that friend doesn’t get too greedy. Its simple pragmatism, countries like the Philippines don’t have the luxury of going their own way.

            3. tevhatch

              There are so many version, none authenticated, but it is said that Ho Chi Min stated to Vietnamese nationalist who were considering working with Chaing Kai Shek’s KMT to expel the French: “You fools! Don’t you realize what it means if the Chinese remain? Don’t you remember your history? The last time the Chinese came, they stayed a thousand years. The French are foreigners. They are weak. Colonialism is dying. The white man is finished in Asia. But if the Chinese stay now, they will never go. As for me, I prefer to sniff French shit for five years than to eat Chinese shit for the rest of my life.” I picked this version because it’s the harshest one I’ve found on China.

              Now, having said that, after Vietnam invaded Cambodia to overthrow the USA and Chinese client Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot, China announced it would punish Vietnam by invading it’s north, destroying certain facilities, then withdrawing back to it’s own border, (so a predecessor of Russia’s original SMO, pre-land grab/resumption). This they did, though they paid a much higher price than originally anticipated, they kept to the deadline. So, the CPV | Communist Party of Vietnam understand their position vs. the CPC | Communist Party of Vietnam. The Philippines are still much more a slave and the elites satrapy to Wall Street’s neo-colonial finance empire, just look at the Marcos family history. However even they smell the blood in the water and it looks like it’s leaking out of Uncle Sam.

              All of this is to say nations in Asia fear China for it’s power, but it’s not a fear of colonialism, but rather of reduced sovereignty which they will try to buffer for as long as possible, but the future is clear (and tolerable if not necessarily ice cream and cake, and can hardly be worse than the Jakarta Method, etc.). As to USA, they know it’s very easy to expel the USA, if the elite decide neo-colonial capture isn’t as profitable as sovereign extraction.

      2. digi_owl

        Part of the issue is that US bases are “exempt” from local law.

        If a serviceman gets his ass back to base, it is up to the base commander to hand him back to the locals or put him on the first transport back to USA.

        Effectively they are “embassies”, but with far more guns. Or maybe a modern recreation of the wild west cavalry fort.

        1. scott s.

          They are subject to Article V of the Visiting Forces Agreement. I suppose it is a matter of perspective if Article V is considered “fair”. I don’t think Article V can be fairly characterized as making service members “exempt” from local law.

          1. Revenant

            Article V is below. Careful reading shows that after lip service to PH jurisdiction, it is ousted in principle in many areas, subject to deference to US wishes in others, reduced to a facade by US priority right to hold in custody and, if that doesn’t get your man off scot free, a double jeopardy clause enables a US tribunal to quickly charge and exonerate and the result binds the PH.

            It looks pretty unfair to me but the rest of the groundlings can take a view!

            Article V: Criminal Jurisdiction

            1. Subject to the provisions of this Article:ITC@ALF

            (a) Philippine authorities shall have jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses committed within the Philippines and punishable under the law of the Philippines.

            (b) United States military authorities shall have the right to exercise within the Philippines all criminal and disciplinary jurisdiction conferred on them by the military law of the United States over United States personnel in the Philippines.

            2. (a) Philippine authorities exercise exclusive jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses, including offenses relating to the security of the Philippines, punishable under the laws of the Philippines, but not under the laws of the United States.

            (b) United States authorities exercise exclusive jurisdiction over United States Personnel with respect to offenses, including offenses relating to the security of the United States, punishable under the laws of the United States, but not under the laws of the Philippines.

            (c) For purposes of this paragraph and paragraph 3 of this Article, an offense relating to security means:

            (1) treason;

            (2) sabotage, espionage or violation of any law relating to national defense.

            3. In cases where the right to exercise jurisdiction is concurrent, the following rules shall apply:

            (a) Philippine authorities shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over all offenses committed by United States personnel, except in cases provided for in paragraphs 1 (b), 2 (b), and 3 (b) of this Article.

            (b) United States military authorities shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over United States personnel subject to the military law of the United States in relation to:

            (1) offenses solely against the property or security of the United States or offenses solely against the property or person of United States personnel; and

            (2) offenses arising out of any act or omission done in performance of official duty.

            (c) The authorities of either government may request the authorites of the other government to waive their primary right to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case.

            (d) Recognizing the responsibility of the United States military authorities to maintain good order and discipline among their forces, Philippine authorities will, upon request by the United States, waive their primary right to exercise jurisdiction except in cases of particular importance to the Philippines. If the Government of the Philippines determines that the case is of particular importance, it shall communicate such determination to the United States authorities within twenty (20) days after the Philippine authorities receive the United States request.

            (e) When the United States military commander determines that an offense charged by authorities of the Philippines against United States personnel arises out of an act or omission done in the performance of official duty, the commander shall issue a certificate setting forth such determination. This certificate will be transmitted to the appropriate authorities of the Philippines and will constitute sufficient proof of performance of official duty for the purposes of paragraph 3 (b) (2) of this Article. In those cases where the Government of the Philippines believes the circumstances of the case require a review of the duty certificate, United States military authorities and Philippine authorities shall consult immediately. Philippine authorities at the highest levels may also present any information bearing on its validity. United States military authorities shall take full account of the Philippine position. Where appropriate, United States military authorities will take disciplinary or other action against offenders in official duty cases, and notify the Government of the Philippines of the actions taken.

            (f) If the government having the primary right does not exercise jurisdiction, it shall notify the authorities of the other government as soon as possible.

            (g) The authorities of the Philippines and the United States shall notify each other of the disposition of all cases in which both the authorities of the Philippines and the United States have the right to exercise jurisdiction.

            4. Within the scope of their legal competence, the authorities of the Philippines and United States shall assist in each other in the arrest of United States personnel in the Philippines and in handing them over to authorities who are to exercise jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

            5. United States military authorities shall promptly notify Philippine authorities of the arrest or detention of United States personnel who are subject to Philippine primary or exclusive jurisdiction. Philippine authorities shall promptly notify United States military authorities of the arrest or detention of any United States personnel.

            6. The custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with United States military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings. United States military authorities shall, upon formal notification by the Philippine authorities and without delay, make such personnel available to those authorities in time for any investigative or judicial proceedings relating to the offense with which the person has been charged. In extraordinary cases, the Philippine Government shall present its position to the United States Government regarding custody, which the United States Government shall take into full account. In the event Philippine judicial proceedings are not completed within one year, the United States shall be relieved of any obligations under this paragraph. The one year period will not include the time necessary to appeal. Also, the one year period will not include any time during which scheduled trial procedures are delayed because United States authorities, after timely notification by Philippine authorities to arrange for the presence of the accused, fail to do so.

            7. Within the scope of their legal authority, United States and Philippine authorities shall assist each other in the carrying out of all necessary investigation into offenses and shall cooperate in providing for the attendance of witnesses and in the collection and production of evidence, including seizure and, in proper cases, the delivery of objects connected with an offense.

            8. When United States personnel have been tried in accordance with the provisions of this Article and have been acquitted or have been convicted and are serving, or have served their sentence, or have had their sentence remitted or suspended, or have been pardoned, they may not be tried again for the same offense in the Philippines. Nothing in this paragraph, however, shall prevent United States military authorities from trying United States personnel for any violation of rules of discipline arising from the act or omission which constituted an offense for which they were tried by Philippine authorities.

            9. When United States personnel are detained, taken into custody, or prosecuted by Philippine authorities, they shall be accorded all procedural safeguards established by the law of the Philippines. At the minimum, United States personnel shall be entitled:

            (a) To a prompt and speedy trial;

            (b) To be informed in advance of trial of the specific charge or charges made against them and to have reasonable time to prepare a defense;

            (c) To be confronted with witnesses against them and to cross examine such witnesses;

            (d) To present evidence in their defense and to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses;

            (e) To have free and assisted legal representation of their own choice on the same basis as nationals of the Philippines;

            (f) To have the services of a competent interpreter;

            (g) To communicate promptly with and to be visited regularly by United States authorities, and to have such authorities present at all judicial proceedings. These proceedings shall be public unless the court, in accordance with Philippine law, excludes persons who have no role in the proceedings.

            10. The confinement or detention by Philippine authorities of United States personnel shall be carried out in facilities agreed on by appropriate Philippine and United States authorities. United States personnel serving sentences in the Philippines shall have the right to visits and material assistance.

            11. United States personnel shall be subject to trial only in Philippine courts of ordinary jurisdiction, and shall not be subject to the jurisdiction of Philippine military or religious courts.

      3. agent ranger smith

        I have suspected that China’s artificial islands are not primarily meant to fight from. They were more to establish a presence, something like my dim understanding of the game weiqi ( go ) , where the ChinaGov slowly turns the China Sea into ChinaGov property beyond others’s willingness to fight about it.

        If that’s the main purpose of these Chinese artificial islands, then ” hard to defend” doesn’t matter unless they get forced to physically defend them.

        They are the Chinese equivalent of Israeli squattlements in the Occupied West Bank which are meant to create a preponderance of ” facts on the ground”. The Chinese military fake island squattlements are meant to create a preponderance of “facts in the water”.

        I also suspect the PhilipinesGov thinks the American presence will keep China from strip mining every last fish from out of Chinese-occupied Philipine waters and every last drop of oil and puff of gas from the Philipine seabed. Well . . . it won’t. So the PhilipinesGov will be left wondering why they bothered to invite America back after China has strip-mined the very last fish. China might not even bother keeping a Chinese vessel presence in Philipine waters after China has utterly destroyed every last trace of mineral and biological value in those waters all the way down to zero.

        Once China has turned the Philipine waters into an lunar seascape, they may well give it all back.

        ” So long, and thanks for all the fish!”

  2. Polar Socialist

    Already last November the Philippines claimed these new bases will be constructed according to the EDCA, it’s not a new agreement. While building five new bases that USA can use, USA will also upgrade three Philippine military bases.

    The thought comes to my mind that somehow this 9 year old project is presented as a new thing so that it looks like USA is countering the Chinese success at Solomon Islands. For China, the threat really is no bigger even if there’s a new base 200 miles closer to China.

    It also seems that Philippines are trying very much to communicate that this is not any kind of change in their “balanced strategy”. They obviously don’t want to become the Ukraine of South China Sea.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      You are quite right, there is little new on this. While the current anti-China hysteria is pushing forward these plans, in reality they are part of ongoing strategic reassessments by the US (and others) in the region. Philippines has long been important strategically for the US in the region, but it fell far down the priority list for a couple of decades so they were content to run down the bases. The gradual rebuilding has been going on for quite a few years. If there is one thing that unites the various strands of Philippines politics, its that however much they dislike the US, they distrust China far more so there has always been a lot of ‘on the ground’ contacts between the militaries despite Dutartes various schemes and scams in the past. The US is the devil they know and I don’t think it makes much of a difference who is in power when it comes to this type of agreement.

      1. David

        I think that’s a point often overlooked in discussions of this kind. When you are a relatively small power with a large power nearby, it’s often useful to complicate the calculations of the big power by cultivating contacts with a rival large power, and playing them off against each other. It’s something that national leaders outside the major western states learn in their first week in office.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          It always seems to me that old style hard men often have an instinctive feel for this sort of dynamic, while supposedly more refined and educated leaders struggle with it. Trump, for all his clumsiness, seemed to understand this implicitly, while the likes of Obama never grasped it.

      2. Kouros

        Why the distrust on China? What is the bad history with China and the Chinese, after centuries being under Spaniards and then immediately, despite strong resistance, under the US?

        It is clear that China’s main goals is to regain control of Taiwan, which its sees as its own, and to push the US threat away from its shores, as much as possible. All little to do with Philippines.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The current issues are mostly around the occasionally violent disputes around the Spratly islands and the associated fishing and mineral claims. China has built bases on semi-submerged islands that most countries in the region consider part of the ‘pines. A lot of local fishermen have been essentially pushed out of their traditional waters by China. The claims are complex – the Philippines itself occupies two tiny islands probably should belong to Vietnam – but nearly everyone agrees that Vietnam, the Philippines Indonesia and Malaysia have a far stronger legal claim over Spratly waters than China, but China has pretty much ignored this and gone ahead and made a land/sea grab.

          But the roots are a lot more complex – there has been Chinese settlement in the Philippines for nearly a millennium – previously Hokkien, more recently mainstream mandarin speakers. Many of the most powerful families in the Philippines are of at least partly Chinese origin, including the Aquinos. The Chinese in the Philippines have at various times in the past been disproportionately wealthy and powerful, while also a very oppressed minority (especially when in the early 19th Century the US banned Chinese immigration, forcing many to take up local names).

          1. Kouros

            So the “Yews” of Asia in a sense?
            Indonesians applied their Jakarta method mostly on the Chinese…

  3. LY

    I wonder how aggressive China has gotten in the South China Sea, one of the few places where China actually is doing a land, er, sea grab.

    There are the recently expanded bases in the Spratlys. Then, for me, the worst is aggressive fishing boats, which just piles on to the environmental disaster. China has not been a good neighbor in that part of the world.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      China has consistently overplayed its hand with its immediate neighbours over border disputes. There have been many cases of localised aggression by Chinese coastguard vessels or supposedly independent fishing vessels over disputed fishing grounds and islets. These usually get little attention internationally but a lot of attention locally.

      From the Chinese point of view it makes sense to continually push the boundaries to see how far they can go with their weaker neighbours, but I don’t think they appreciate just how badly this plays with the public in those countries (the Chinese are usually pretty clumsy when it comes to soft power). Despite the US’s awful colonial legacy in the Philippines it always surprises me at just generally how pro-US the people I’ve met from there are (even left wingers). Partially its a language/cultural thing, and of course, there are many, many Filipino-Americans and unlike elsewhere in Asia, there has been much less Russian/Chinese/Japanese historical interaction). But the Chinese don’t really help themselves.

      Back in 2016 I travelled a little in the Philippines and did a bit of a tour of the initial Belt and Road investments just out of curiosity. Most consisted of gigantic casinos and it didn’t take much prompting to find out that these were deeply resented by locals who saw them as bringing in vice and gangsters. While some of the infrastructure investments are undoubtedly good for the country, those were far less visible than the casinos and hotels. It should also be said that over much of SE Asia there is, for complex historical reasons, a lot of resentment/racism aimed at ethnic Chinese, and this plays into local politics in all sorts of unexpected ways.

      1. tevhatch

        Like the USA, a lot of China’s bad steps in diplomacy are driven by domestic politics/money. The fisheries fleet/Coast Guard has a lot of pull due to the large number of members of the CPC | Communist Party of China and it’s proximity to both China’s PLA | Peoples Liberation Army / MIC and the ever powerful food production base. Throw in CNPC | China National Petroleum Corp’s vested interest in the seafloor gas/oil and it’s a challenge that probably takes a strongman ala Xi to begin to pull back into party discipline. Securing Russian Gas and the Yuan/Ruble exchange has already given one lever to start pealing back the support to the Fisheries Fleet. Securing Vietnam support and keeping it may be another.

        Money will salve old wounds, and in the case of the Philippines their import/export needs indicates this is just the typical negotiation ploy, which is starting to wear thin. A few rapes by Americans and it will all be a pity.

  4. upstater

    Regarding narrative control, the professors’ funding source:

    Military Deployments

    This page contains all information related to our research on the positive and negative externalities of US troop deployments abroad. All material on this page is based upon work supported by, or in part by, the Minerva Research Initiative, U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Research Office under grant number W911NF-18-1-0087. Opinions and interpretations are those of the authors and not the Army or Department of Defense

    I had a neighbor that held an endowed professorship that measured effectiveness of propaganda during Bush’s GWOT.

    After the U.S. won the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Philippines became a U.S. colony until its independence in 1946.

    Not a single word about the insurrection which followed US seizure! Not a word! Whitewashing history.

    Modern imperialism. I guess the good thing is these academics are providing the answers the deep state wants to hear. Hopefully they are all tone deaf.

    1. Alice X

      I was going to point this out earlier but drifted off.

      After the brief US war with Spain, the Philippines declared independence, proclaiming the First Republic of the Philippines. The US – Philippine war ensued, lasting from 1899 to1902. There were considerable US atrocities with many thousands of Filipino deaths.

      The US public was and remains largely oblivious. It’s hard to fathom that the Filipinos have been likewise oblivious.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I was actually surprised to see the word ‘colony’ used as apparently (according to most mainstream sources) the US never had any colonies, just cuddly sounding protectorates.

  5. John R Moffett

    “After the U.S. won the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Philippines became a U.S. colony until its independence in 1946.”

    Disgusting example of lying by omission. How many people in the Philippines were slaughtered by US troops during their stint as a “US colony”? Hundreds of thousands? This is an absolutely anti-historical account of the long US war in the Philippines that lasted for decades.

    1. tevhatch

      Marines and US Army troops who, brutish anyway, were given full reign to carry out genocide using death camps in the Southern Philippines, where they used reductions in food rations to slowly kill off the interned tribes. Some were rushed off to Tianjin for the 8 army invasion of China during the “Boxer Rebellion”. First thing the US Marines did was to confiscate boats in Tianjin by clubbing and throwing whole families living on them into the harbor, because bringing them to shore would waste time.# There’s a lot of historical bonds between the two Asian nations that the Western Narrative hides. Their violence became legendary with the Japanese Army, and had an impact on Japan which lasted through WW2.

      It’s usually claimed that NSDAP judicial researchers to the USA primarily to study Jim Crow. Jim Crow was of only a little interest to them, their actual primary interest was the legal and administrative structures used to extirpate 1st nation people and in colonies. One area particularly studied was the administration of the Philippines and Puerto Rico. They had case studies on American use of everything from Eugenics driven forced sterilization and medical experimentation on humans to asset stripping and reservation / concentration / and lastly extermination camps was given legal/administrative structure and asserting control over media to keep it all quiet. (#How to Hide an Empire , Immerwahr)

  6. jrkrideau

    The authors rather lost me about here. Taiwan, an island off the coast of China, considers itself an independent country .

    If this is the level of analysis, I think I’ll pass.

  7. Kouros

    “We have found in our research that the U.S. tends to soften its concerns about human rights in deployment hosts when security issues become more prominent.”

    Might as well wrote this:
    “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

  8. John R Moffett

    I should add that the claim that “China intends to invade Taiwan by 2027” ominously sounds like Biden saying that Russia was going to invade Ukraine within a couple of weeks while we were helping the Kiev government accelerate their military assault on the Donbass region. At that point it was obvious that Biden’s handlers were fairly certain that their provocations had reached sufficient level to trigger a Russian response.

  9. dandyandy

    This new Filipino deployment just reeks of desperation.

    Some years from now (single digits), scholars will be saying; “the Empire’s path to the dustbin of history was well established by 2023”.

    1. dandyandy

      Just read John Helmer’s fantastic drill down on Chinese Baloon (TM), he says John Bolton is considering running for US Presidency in 2024 on the singular platform of “stronger foreign policy”.

      That Borg would field that team and that script, REALLY reeks of clinical level desperation.

  10. Brian F

    These polls mean nothing wait until the war starts. They will change rapidly as people see the United States can’t handle anything the Chinese throw at them. The problem is neocons do not understand the limitations of military intervention. One would think our entire military and political system needs overhaul based on Ukraine. But no let’s have more political scientists which isn’t scientific tells again erroneously how things will work out? It’s simple to bet against neocons they always lose.

  11. Cleones

    To understand the Philippines, read “Gold Warriors,” and “The Marcos Dynasty,” by Sterling and Peggy Seagrave.

    Vast, unimaginable amounts of gold, stolen from all of Asia during WW II and the underpinning the global economy, and financing U.S. covert operations. Extensively documented.

    May have cost the authors their lives.

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