Geography dictates two divergent perspectives for ASEAN countries. The first belongs to the “continental” group and the second to the archipelagic nations, especially Indonesia and the Philippines, which constitute nearly half of ASEAN’s population, GDP, and land area, and over 80 percent of its exclusive economic zones. A maritime outlook could be expected to dominate […]
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s early-August announcement that he will finally invoke the Philippines’ arbitral tribunal victory against Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea took everyone by surprise. After all, it represented a marked shift from his earlier decision to “set aside” the landmark ruling, which has been vehemently rejected by China as “null and […]
“There is no ifs and buts. It is ours. But we have been acting along that legal truth and line. But we have to temper it with the times and the realities that we face today.” This statement in President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last month reflects his policy toward […]
The standoff between China and Vietnam near Vanguard Bank has passed the two-month mark without showing any sign of a resolution. Since mid-June 2019, a Chinese survey ship and its coast guard escorts have been maneuvering in a threatening manner in the southern part of Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a short distance from Block […]
The Haiyang Dizhi 8, a survey vessel belonging to a Chinese government-run corporation, began surveying a large swath of seabed on July 3 northeast of Vanguard Bank (Bai Tu Chinh) off the coast of Vietnam. The ship was apparently undertaking an oil and gas survey across two blocks, Riji 03 and Riji 27, which fall […]
The release of the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report by the U.S. Department of Defense last month has given further shape to the United States’ vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. The document underscores the linkages between economics, governance, and security and stresses the importance of allies and partners. However, it also reveals the contradiction between […]
This year’s annual Bilateral Strategic Dialogue to coordinate the Philippine-U.S. alliance could not have come at a more opportune moment. First, it comes months after Philippine defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana called for a comprehensive review of the alliance in light of radical changes in the Indo-Pacific geopolitical environment. The Philippine defense chief, who formerly served […]
Around midnight on June 9, a Chinese fishing vessel rammed and partially sank a wooden Filipino fishing boat, the F/B Gem-Ver 1, which was anchored at Reed Bank in the South China Sea. After the collision, the Chinese vessel reportedly turned off its signal lights and sailed away as the Filipino boat sank. The 22 […]
On June 9, a Filipino fishing boat was reportedly rammed and sunk by a Chinese vessel while anchored near Reed Bank, leaving 22 sailors in need of rescue. A Vietnamese fishing vessel nearby came to rescue them. Reed Bank is about 100 nautical miles off the Philippine island of Palawan and nearly 600 nautical miles […]
One of the most underappreciated aspects of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy has been his facilitation of a golden age in bilateral relations with Japan. This strategic approach was on full display during the Filipino president’s latest visit to Tokyo, the third in less than three years, which revealed the deep strategic ties that […]
Today’s globalized world increasingly depends on the Indian Ocean for trade connectivity. In 2018, Indian Ocean-connected nations had a combined nominal GDP of over $54 trillion and included 12 of the 16 members of the trillion-dollar club. By 2033, the Indian Ocean will connect 21 of the 25 global members of the projected trillion-dollar club. […]
The concept of “face” exerts powerful agency in Chinese interpersonal relations, foreign affairs, and maritime strategy. The Chinese Communist Party’s mandate to govern 1.35 billion people is founded on its promise to restore the Middle Kingdom to a prime position in the regional and global order. If Beijing should now lose face and claimed sovereign […]
From April 1 to 12, units from the major branches of the U.S. and Philippine militaries conducted 28 major exercises that tested and enhanced their skills and abilities in joint combat and humanitarian operations. During the two-week Balikatan (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder”) exercises, Filipino, American, and a small number of Australian troops participated in counter-terrorism training, amphibious operations […]
Three years into his quiescent China policy, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte is experiencing a rude awakening in the South China Sea. The ongoing Chinese siege of the Philippines’ largest land feature in the Spratlys, Thitu Island, represents Duterte’s greatest foreign policy crisis and, ironically, the very country he has courted assiduously is at the heart […]
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in February issued a non-binding advisory opinion rejecting the United Kingdom’s claim of sovereignty over the Chagos Islands, which London calls the British Indian Ocean Territory, and ruling that they should be returned to Mauritius. The court, at the request of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), considered two […]
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.
On November 20, Presidents Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the exchange of a “memorandum of understanding on oil and gas development” in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea between their respective foreign ministers in Manila. The highly anticipated agreement was expected to seal the radical change in relations between the two disputing parties in the South China Sea. But apart from the announcement of its title, details remain very sketchy.
Misperceptions about the Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue have been so strong that more ink has been spilled explaining what the Quad is not and what it does not intend than on what it is and what objectives it has. Dr. Huong Le Thu releases the results of her survey detailing perceptions of the Quad in ASEAN.
On the surface, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte is overseeing a new “golden age” in bilateral relations with China, often going the extra mile to please his new partner in Beijing. Never shy of expressing his “love” for the Chinese leadership, Duterte has repeatedly downplayed, and even threatened to sever, the Philippine-U.S. alliance in order to […]