Pompeo’s reassurance on the South China Sea may assuage Philippine anxiety over one aspect of the treaty, but the agreement is more complicated and some in Manila worry over just what circumstances would persuade Washington to uphold the treaty—or demand that it be upheld.
Read commentary and analysis from the top AMTI experts on maritime Asia.
The blossoming Philippines-China relationship has opened a floodgate of Chinese investments, unnerving domestic players including the influential military establishment. In particular, China’s bid for a 300-hectares shipping yard in Subic Bay, the former site of one of the United States’ largest overseas naval bases, has unleashed a political firestorm, exposing the fragility of the ongoing rapprochement and the resilience of Beijing-skeptic sentiments in the Southeast Asian country.
Rather than centering on irreconcilable claims of ownership that run against China’s core interests of national unity, territorial integrity and development, the dispute over FONOPs is instead one of how the sea should be utilized, and how it should be governed.
The review of the Philippine-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty may be disruptive, but the treaty’s ambiguity and evolving geopolitical realities have clearly outweighed institutional inertia in the initiation of the process.
China alone doesn’t explain the Natuna unit’s development. Organizational pressures and broader security challenges are more pertinent. Analysts should be cautious in assigning a “China motive” to anything that Indonesia does in connection with the South China Sea.
Beijing has undertaken sweeping efforts to modernize its navy. At the 18th Party Congress in 2012, then-President Hu Jintao called for China to become a “maritime power” capable of safeguarding its maritime rights and interests.
This article comments favorably on the CSIS expert working group’s blueprint for establishing regional co-operative arrangements in the South China Sea. Yet this article proposes an alternative—or supplementary—approach.
The deployment of an Island Reef Information Station Ocean E-Station to Bombay Reef may have opened a new chapter in the international debate over matters of sovereignty, legality and control in the South China Sea.