China-Philippines relations

The Philippine's Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr (left) and Vietnam's President Vo Van Thuong (right) attend a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on 30 January 2024. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Philippine President Marcos Jr's visit to Vietnam: Creating a 'united front' over South China Sea issue?

President Marcos Jr’s overtures to Vietnam during his recent visit to Hanoi seem to indicate that ASEAN claimant states are starting to “gang up” on China. But the picture is not so clear-cut, says Chinese academic Peng Nian, when one considers Vietnam’s interests and relations with China.
A China Coast Guard (left) vessel blocks BRP Melchora Aquino (right) during the Philippine coast guard’s mission to deliver provisions at Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea on 10 November 2023. (Jam Sta Rosa/AFP)

Civil society should not get involved in the South China Sea disputes

Chinese academic Peng Nian notes that the Philippines is playing a dangerous game by stoking civil society sentiments in the South China sea disputes. It could end up being a lose-lose situation for bilateral relations.
Philippine soldiers look at Philippine Coast Guard vessels near Thitu Island in the disputed South China Sea on 1 December 2023. (Jam Sta Rosa/AFP)

No China backlash, so far: The Philippines’ new 'assertive transparency' policy in the South China Sea

The Philippines’ "assertive transparency" in the South China Sea has so far not generated negative economic repercussions for the country. Does this demonstrate the limits of China’s grey zone coercion?
A Philippines coast guard personnel looks at the Chinese Coast Guard vessel as they come close during a mission to deliver provisions at Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea on 10 November 2023. (Jam Sta Rosa/AFP)

It's not about fear: What drives the Philippines’ response in the South China Sea

Philippine academic Robert Joseph P. Medillo says that rather than looking at the Philippines’ reactions to China’s actions in the South China Sea from the prism of fear, one can understand it as standing up to a major power, through building a collective of like-minded states that can rally together to press for transparency and accountability from China.
Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shakes hands with Philippine President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, on 3 November 2023. (Aaron Favila/Reuters)

Japanese academic: Necessary for Japan to support Philippines' security capabilities

Amid rising tensions in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China, Japan is looking to forge closer security relations with the Philippines. An envisaged reciprocal access agreement between the Philippines and Japan would be an important step towards that end and help to achieve maritime stability in East Asia.
A sailor stands on the deck of the USS America (LHA-6) amphibious assault ship docked at a port in Manila, Philippines, 21 March 2023. (Adrian Portugal/Reuters)

US and China fight for influence in strategic provinces of the Philippines

The locus of superpower rivalry in the Indo-Pacific has gone down to the subnational level. The US and China are engaged in a power competition for influence within local governments in the Philippines, not least in the Cagayan area.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III (right) meets Philippines President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (left) at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, 2 February 2023. (Jam Sta Rosa/Pool via Reuters)

Chinese academic: The Philippines' closer ties with US could cross China's bottom line

Chinese academic Peng Nian looks at the US expanding its access to new military bases in the Philippines, which China is particularly concerned with. He says that while the Philippines want to find a sweet spot in navigating China-US competition, it must be extra vigilant in dealing with security cooperation with the US in the South China Sea so as not to aggravate China-Philippines relations.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (centre) is seen on a video screen as he salutes in front of the troops during the 87th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, at the military headquarters in Quezon City in suburban Manila on 19 December 2022. (Ted Aljibe/AFP)

It's hard for the Philippines to stay neutral in a Taiwan contingency

In the event of hostilities in the Taiwan Strait, Manila’s defence treaty with the US will give it little room to manoeuvre. Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s recent visit to China underscores his intent to have a constructive relationship with China, and it remains to be seen how the Philippines will navigate its relationships with both the China and the US.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. review the honour guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 4 January 2023. (CNS photo via Reuters)

Between economy and security: Does the Philippines' Marcos Jr have a choice?

While Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s 3-5 Jan visit to Beijing reaped economic opportunities, it was also a missed opportunity to leverage the 2016 arbitral award, says Philippine academic Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby. The onus rests on the Philippines to keep the West Philippine Sea on the agenda, and there are several steps the Marcos administration should keep in mind in doing so.