US-Philippines military

Philippines and US soldiers salute in front of their national flags while their national anthems are played during the opening ceremony of the 'Balikatan' joint military exercise at the military headquarters in Quezon City, suburban Manila on 11 April 2023. (Ted Aljibe/AFP)

US new military bases: China-Philippine relations on downward spiral?

China takes a dim view of Manila’s decision to grant the US access to four military bases. While the two allies have framed the arrangement as bolstering deterrence vis-à-vis China, such a move is unlikely to deter Beijing.
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.
Philippines and US officers link arms during the opening ceremony of US-Philippines Arm-to-Army exercise at Fort Magsaysay, in Nueva Ecija province, north of Manila on 13 March 2023. (Ted Aljibe/AFP)

Is Philippine President Marcos Jr swinging too far back to the US?

The Marcos Jr administration’s defence cooperation policy that hews closer to the US is facing domestic criticism, even from his sister. China is also growing increasingly uncomfortable with recent moves between the Philippines and the US, and posturing that suggests that the Philippines could be enlisted to part of the "China containment club".
Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr (left) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (right) listen to their national anthems at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on 9 February 2023. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP)

Closer trilateral US-Japan-Philippines ties to protect security interests against China

Closer Japan-Philippines security cooperation announced during Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos’ visit to Japan this month augurs closer trilateral US-Japan-Philippines cooperation in defending each of their interests against China, says Japanese academic Masafumi Iida.
US President Joe Biden meets with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US, on 22 September 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Can the Philippines stay neutral in a Taiwan Strait military confrontation between the US and China?

Philippine academic Renato Cruz De Castro asserts that the Philippines will have to fall back on the strength of the Philippines-US alliance in the face of a possible US-China armed stand-off in the Taiwan Strait.
This photograph taken on 8 December 2020 shows a vendor steering her boat while looking for customers at the Damnoen Saduak floating market, nearly deserted with few tourists due to ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus travel restrictions, some 100km southwest of Bangkok. (Mladen Antonov/AFP)

What Southeast Asia wants from the impending Biden presidency

ISEAS academics Malcolm Cook and Ian Storey note that Southeast Asia would welcome a Biden administration policy towards Asia that is less confrontational and unilateralist, and firmer and more action-oriented. The region's governments prefer the new US administration to adopt a less confrontational stance towards China and lower US-China tensions. But while they welcome increased US economic and security engagement with the region, they are less enthusiastic about Biden’s emphasis on human rights and democracy.
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.
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.