China-Philippines relations

A street vendor pushes her cart in the rain in Hanoi, 15 October 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

How should Southeast Asian countries respond to an upsurge in Chinese investment

In this geostrategic climate, Southeast Asian countries should welcome rather than reject investments from China for their own developmental needs. Welcoming Chinese investment will also likely spur competing investments from the West and Japan.
Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Marine Corps are seen in training in China, 21 January 2016. (Stringer/REUTERS)

Will China establish military bases in Southeast Asia?

The US Department of Defence has asserted that Beijing has “likely considered” logistics and basing infrastructure in five Southeast Asian countries. It is worth noting that such arrangements are predicated on a host nation’s inclination to support such a presence. At the moment, such willingness appears to be in short supply, except in the case of Cambodia.
This file photo taken on April 21, 2017 shows an aerial shot of a reef in the disputed Spratly islands. (Ted Aljibe/AFP)

SEA states have few options to mitigate escalating South China Sea tensions

Tensions in the South China Sea have surged since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. China has pressed its jurisdictional claims prompting the US to increase its criticism of Beijing’s actions and its military presence in the South China Sea. In response to China’s activities, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have rejected Beijing’s nine-dash line claims and invoked international law and the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling in support of their maritime sovereign rights. ISEAS academic Ian Storey takes stock of the situation and gives a broad sweep of what we can expect in the next 18 months.
A stretch of the 400-kilometre long China-Laos railway in Vientiane, 29 July 2020. (Xinhua)

China's Belt and Road Initiative faces huge challenges in Southeast Asia

Beijing has pledged financing, materials, technology and manpower to build railroads, hydropower stations and other infrastructure projects in Southeast Asian countries under the BRI. But China continues to face enormous challenges getting projects off the ground in countries that need the investment most. US academic Murray Hiebert examines why.
The skyline of Singapore's central business district, 27 May 2016. (Edgar Su/REUTERS)

Can small states continue to avoid choosing between China and the US?

With the jostling between China and the US, one country that seems to have found a balance between these two powers is Singapore. In fact, other ASEAN countries are also seeking not to take sides, which appears to be the most prudent strategy. However, ISEAS academic William Choong thinks that the choice of not making a choice may not be feasible in the near future.
This handout photo received on 9 June 2020 from the Department National Defense Philippines (DND), shows Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana (centre) along with military officials cutting a ribbon during the inauguration ceremony of the newly constructed beach-ramp at Philippine-held Pag-asa Island also known as Thitu Island in the Spratly archipelagos. (Handout/Department National Defense Philippines (DND)/AFP)

[South China Sea] Should the Philippines avoid playing the lead role amid rising tensions in SCS?

Chinese academic Lin Qi says following the arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016, which, inter alia, said that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’”, the Philippines has gone on to stake a firmer claim in the South China Sea such as by undertaking upgrading works on certain islands it inhabits and proposing draft amendments to the “national territory” article of its constitution. However, in many of its endeavours, it relies on the US and will continue to work closely with them amid rising tensions in the region.
With the USS-Wasp in the background, U.S. Marines ride an amphibious assault vehicle during the amphibious landing exercises of the U.S.-Philippines war games promoting bilateral ties at a military camp in Zambales province, Philippines, 11 April 2019. (Eloisa Lopez/REUTERS)

Visiting Forces Agreement: Uncle Sam still welcome for another year in the Philippines

The Philippines has suspended the planned termination of the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement with the US. But the alliance is not out of the woods yet.
A woman walks in front of a drawing of Chinese President Xi Jinping on a wall at the Leishenshan Hospital that had offered beds for coronavirus patients in Wuhan, April 11, 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Covid-19: China’s shifting narrative and the role of Southeast Asia

Did Covid-19 originate in Wuhan? Were ASEAN countries friendly to China in this fight against the pandemic? Who provided aid to whom? Lye Liang Fook examines how China's narrative has changed since the coronavirus epidemic began and to what extent Southeast Asia has played a role in this process.
This file photo taken on May 9, 2014 shows Philippine and US Marines taking positions during a beach assault exercise facing the South China Sea in San Antonio, Zambales province. The Philippines told the US on February 11, 2020 it was quitting a pact key to their historical military alliance, which triggers a six-month countdown to the deal's termination, Manila said. (Ted Aljibe/AFP)

The Philippines' termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement: A win for China and Russia

Manila’s decision to withdraw from the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement with the US will benefit China and Russia. Russia’s attempt to cozy up to the Philippines, however, might not be wholly welcomed by Beijing. ISEAS academic Ian Storey sets out the impact of the decision.