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China, America's ally, is increasingly concerned about this matter, which is why it has decided to take serious steps

China, America's ally, is increasingly concerned about this matter, which is why it has decided to take serious steps

In recent years, an increasingly tense situation has developed in the Far East, as China has gained more and more influence in the region. On the other hand, the growing political, economic and military power presents countries here with a choice: They must decide whether they want to maintain good relations with Beijing or Washington in the future. America is increasingly concerned about the rise of a superpower in the East, but it does not plan to leave the region.

a [Kínával] Our relationship is in intense strategic competition. At the same time, the United States is committed to managing this competition responsibly so that it does not escalate into error or conflict.

This is what Daniel Kritenbrink, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said at a recent event held by the Atlantic Council for Research. He also added that it is respectable that local governments do not want to choose between great powers, but it is important that their decision is not made under pressure.

However, the Philippines is in a unique position, because it is a close ally of the White House.

Accordingly, Manila is assuming an increasing role in building a deterrent capacity against growing Chinese influence. The island state in particular is expanding its military presence in the northern region near the island of Taiwan. Recently, the Philippine leadership has been drawing closer to the Western superpower, which is questioning the oscillating policy between the great powers.

What is also new is that Manila is working to increase its defense capabilities in the northern regions, while the country is fighting over control of the maritime areas to the west. Washington also favors increasing seaport capacities in the northern islands. Although local authorities emphasize that the American connection has more economic and humanitarian goals, these bases also allow the installation of a large number of advanced technologies. China does not take these developments seriously, as it views increasing capacity as a hostile move.

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Beijing fears that the United States is trying to create “a series of dual-use facilities” around Taiwan to protect the island.

So far, the younger Marcos administration in Manila has sent mixed signals about its stance on the Taiwan issue. According to the communication so far, capacity building in the Philippines is more defensive and does not target any specific country. However, these moves do not support that, as they show that the island nation is increasingly treating the Basi Channel and the Taiwan Strait as a potential battleground. Beijing did not take the steps in good faith, and Manila was warned not to “set the region on fire.”

The Taiwan issue is a crucial point in the life of the Philippines, because if China occupies it, the eastern superpower will be its immediate neighbour. This would increase cases of disputes over the jurisdiction of different regions with Manila.

Cover image credit: Jess Aznar/Getty Images

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