Philippines

Police stand guard near the parliament building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 17 May 2022. (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP)

Families that rule: Thoughts about Asia's political landscape

The political environment in Asia has been marked with upheavals and instability. While each country has their own system of democratic elections in the modern sense, they appear to share a number of common themes that resembles the backward political practices of 19th century Europe. Academic Chen Liujun assesses the regional developments.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr (left) with Mao Zedong (centre) and Imelda Marcos, on a visit to China in September 1957. (Twitter)

Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr, the president-elect who kissed Mao Zedong

With Ferdinand Marcos Jr achieving a landslide win in the Philippine presidential election, how will the Philippines’ China policy change? In particular, given the legacy of the Marcos family’s good relations with China as well as former President Duterte’s pro-China stance, how will the incoming president handle relations with the US?
Traffic in front of a Chinese restaurant in Boracay, Aklan, the Philippines, on 23 March 2022. (Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg)

The Belt and Road Initiative and the Philippines’ post-Duterte China challenge

Even under China-friendly President Duterte, Chinese BRI projects in the Philippines still encountered strong political opposition and faced several challenges in their roll-out. Ultimately, a positive domestic response to the BRI hinges on whether Manila can negotiate mutually beneficial and fair deals that allow China to contribute to the Philippines' economic agenda.
Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, on the campaign trail for the 2022 presidential election, at the Philippine Arena, in Bulacan province, Philippines, 8 February 2022. (Lisa Marie David/Reuters)

2022 elections may bring change to the Philippines' China policy

Foreign policy does not usually feature prominently in the Philippine presidential elections, but it should in May this year as candidates will be expected to raise the country’s China policy in policy debates given the accommodating approach adopted by the Duterte administration and its residual effects on the country’s body politic and strategic posture. Apart from territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea, China’s impact on issues such as food security and access to natural resources, migration, business regulation, and transnational crime would also come to the fore.
The BrahMos missile jointly developed by India and Russia, on display at IMDS-2007. (Wikimedia)

Arms sales: A new vector of Sino-Indian competition in the Indo-Pacific

The sale of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to the Philippines, even when it is a product of collaboration with Russia, is the first indigenously developed weapon system India has sold in the region, and could drum up interest from other Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia. With this development, India-China competition in the Indo-Pacific is set to increase as India sends a signal that it is able and willing to respond in kind if China continues to arm India’s adversaries and influence its neighbours.
Philippine Marines fold a Philippine national flag during a flag retreat at the BRP Sierra Madre, a marooned transport ship in the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, 29 March 2014. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Can the next Philippine president stand up to Chinese pressure in the South China Sea?

The winner of the 2022 Philippines presidential elections will determine how the Philippines will handle its legally recognised claims in the West Philippine Sea both domestically and in the regional arena. While current President Rodrigo Duterte has gone against public sentiment several times with his relatively friendly stance towards China, his successor will have to decide how to handle Chinese maritime actions that put pressure on smaller neighbours in Southeast Asia.
A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy is seen during a military display in the South China Sea, 12 April 2018. (Stringer/File Photo/Reuters)

China’s ‘hegemony with Chinese characteristics’ in the South China Sea

Though in word it professes to never seek hegemony or bully smaller countries, in deed, China behaves unilaterally and flexes its economic and political muscles for dominance in the South China Sea, says Indian academic Amrita Jash.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin (left) and Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (right) shake hands after a bilateral meeting at Camp Aguinaldo military camp in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, 30 July 2021. (Rolex Dela Pena/Pool via Reuters)

Mind the gaps, fill the needs: A strategic outlook for the Philippine-US alliance

The Philippines begrudgingly notes the disparity of treatment across US alliances in Asia, as well as Washington’s shift to enhancing engagements with non-treaty partners, such as visits by top US leaders to Singapore, Hanoi, Seoul, and Tokyo, while leaving out Manila. Washington has also shifted to enhancing engagements with alliances such as AUKUS, even as Philippines-US cooperation seems to be deficient in several areas and in security, greatly focused on counter-terrorism operations in Mindanao. Academic Julio S. Amador III says the Philippines must step up to play its part and articulate its key interests better.
This file photo taken on 29 March 2014 shows a Philippine Navy vessel that has been grounded since 1999 to assert the nation's sovereignty over the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea reef also claimed by China. (Jay Directo/AFP)

Second Thomas ShoaI: Is China bullying its smaller neighbours in the South China Sea?

ISEAS academic Ian Storey thinks that despite what China has said about wanting to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea, in mid November, China Coast Guard vessels prevented two Philippine Navy ships from delivering supplies to a group of Marines on Second Thomas Shoal. This can be seen as another of China's attempts to assert its claims in the South China Sea, which an arbitral tribunal ruled in 2016 were incompatible with UNCLOS for which China is a signatory. Is China not abiding by its promise?