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Philippines Become Latest Target of Chinese Aggression

Posted on Saturday, March 9, 2024
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by Ben Solis
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39 Comments

AMAC EXCLUSIVE

Philippines and chinese flags

On March 5, the government of The Philippines announced that it had summoned China’s deputy chief of mission in Manila over yet another act of aggression from the Chinese military. The news marks the most recent escalation of tensions in the South Pacific as China continues its belligerence and concerns mount about the ability of the United States and its allies to fend off a potential Chinese strike.

According to Reuters, a Philippine naval ship carrying out a routine resupply mission was “harassed (and) blocked by Chinese maritime militia and coast guard ships.” The Philippine government, which called the Chinese vessels’ actions “reckless” and “illegal,” said the encounter led to a collision between a Chinese and Philippine ship resulting in damage to the latter.

“China’s interference with the Philippines’ routine and lawful activities in its own exclusive economic zone is unacceptable,” the Philippine foreign ministry said in a statement. “China’s actions in Ayungin Shoal infringes upon the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction.”

The Philippines are just the latest South Pacific nation to experience a fraying relationship with Beijing. Chinese vessels now commonly block and harass Filipino fishing boats, while Beijing has doubled down on its claims to ownership of several Filipino military outposts.

The Philippines’ U.S. ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez also said recently that there is now a real possibility of a major incident in the West Philippine Sea, referring to the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone between The Philippines and China. “The aggression that we are now facing is very real,” Romualdez said, without specifically naming China. “Never in our lifetime even during World War II did we face such a challenge because this country [referring to China] will not let up on their claim in many of our territorial waters.”

Leaders in the United States and many other allied nations share Romualdez’s concern about the growing threat to The Philippines from China.

“The Philippines-China incident can trigger a chain reaction in the region involving theatres from Korea’s Peninsula to Japan through Pacific Islands,” one senior defense official from an Indo-Pacific country told me. Wishing to remain anonymous so he could speak freely, he added that military exercises are ramping up in the region precisely due to fears of conflict with China.

Indo-Pacific experts also fear that China has launched a diplomatic island-hopping campaign to build influence in the Pacific and potentially threaten U.S. national security.

The Solomon Islands, for instance, have sought closer relations with Beijing, while Nauru, a tiny island nation northeast of Australia, recently broke ties with Taiwan in a sign of allegiance to China.

The President of Palau also recently revealed that China offered the country funding if it revoked its support for Taiwan and abandoned the United States. Palau is home to important radar detection systems, including one that forms part of Guam’s missile defense.

In February, Kiribati, another small island nation of about 110,000 people located 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, announced that uniformed Chinese police officers are now working with its local police force. Kiribati is notably home to a Japanese satellite tracking system operated jointly with its allies, including the United States.

China has also continued its aggressive posture toward Taiwan, to the point where, as one New York Times opinion columnist recently put it, “China is running out of red lines to cross.”

In total, there were some 1,700 incursions by China into Taiwan’s airspace and waters last year, a dramatic uptick from just a few years ago. The Chinese military’s violations of Taiwan’s national boundaries have now become so frequent, in fact, that Taiwan has stopped scrambling jets in response.

Military defense experts have warned that China’s Taiwan ambitions are just part of a broader plan in the Indo-Pacific that has been in the works for decades. As Professor Gianfranco Fontanino, a former strategist for NATO and advisor to the alliance’s operations divisions in the 1980s and 1990s, told me, at one point, “Russia had regular military drills with China with scenarios relating to the Taiwan operation.”

Fontanino believes that today’s strategists should consider the worst-case scenario of simultaneous or sequential war events in the Indo-Pacific, including a North Korean attack on South Korea, a Russian attack on Japan, and a Chinese attack on Taiwan and the Philippines. China, of course, would by the lynchpin of such an operation.

“The worst-case scenario should be the foundation for military planners; it must predict as precisely as possible the limit of the adversary,” he said.

For the United States, one of the most immediate areas of concern is Guam, home to major U.S. military installations. At just under 3,000 miles from mainland China, Guam would undoubtedly be a top target for a Chinese first strike. In 2021, Admiral Phillip S. Davidson, the former commander of United States Indo-Pacific Command, called Guam “the most critical operating location west of the international date line.”

But in the opinion of several specialists with whom I spoke, the missile defense systems on Guam are woefully inadequate in the face of the most advanced Chinese hypersonic missiles – in large part due to funding shortfalls from the Biden administration.

According to a recent Department of Defense report, the current missile defense systems on Guam are only deemed to be “generally effective” against “a small number of simple threats.”

Robert Underwood, chair of the Pacific Center for Island Security, a Guam-based think tank, told me the report presents a dismal picture of the island’s defenses. “This recent technical report from the U.S. Defense Department clarifies that the technology being talked about for Guam is not ready for prime time,” he said.

He explained that the Ukraine war shows how threats are evolving, including the advent of drone swarms, and that “these threats are neither small nor simple.”

“Most of the missiles China selected for an attack on Guam are hypersonic, and America’s defense against them is less than impressive,” Professor Fontanino added. “A lack of a 360-degree missile defense system is inexcusable.”

Despite this, however, the White House only requested $209 million to develop missile defense solutions in 2024, while the Pentagon asked for less than $515 million in funding over the previous two years combined.

The vulnerability of U.S. military assets to attack from China represents gross neglect and a complete failure of deterrence on the part of the Biden administration. China’s increasing boldness is a consequence of this, and is something the entire world, not just the Indo-Pacific, will now have to contend with as a result.

Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.

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Rob
Rob
1 month ago

It is excellent article. Biden failed on all fronts, including in the Pacific. The Philippines region is critical for our economy (sea lanes, etc.) and, obviously, our defense. Trump assured a peaceful situation there with Japan and Australia’s leadership.
It looks like nothing Biden and his team touched was left without destruction.

Max
Max
1 month ago

Good article. I do question about US leadership being concerned with Chinese aggression in the region since the current “LEADER” of our nation is in bed with this adversary and continues to “DEGRADE” our military. Overall, the world is ripe for takeover by all enemies of the free world and no one to stop the takeovers.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
1 month ago

Very important article Ben Solis, so much to think about, and the map of the Pacific Ocean gives a good idea of the priorities that should be considered.The geometry involved – by geometry I am referring to the picture that forms when piecing together all of these various strategies China has put forward. The time element that could be a major factor in countering any hostile act by China – the geometric facts that are obvious, the geography involved in the various countries named in the article – makes for a situation that could require the thought process of the defense planners here and the other pro-freedom nations regarding all manner of rapidly changing plans to do what is needed to keep the balance in favor of the United States, the Philippines, Australia, South Korea,Japan and Taiwan and that means deterrence ,such as what President Reagan understood so well. Again, to explain the use of the word geometry, when any sort of shape of any figure is changed – a side ,or a diameter – is shortened or lengthened ,then that changes the picture of what is being considered – so the geometry and the geography should be thought of as interconnected – something vital to keeping balance in favor of the freedom loving countries involved.

J
J
1 month ago

Wow! A man who I once regarded as just another Hollywood star but who later went on to become the 40th President of United States, one Ronald Reagan, had a motto which rings true about this article. He always advocated Peace through Military Strength! This has never been more appropriate than today. What a horrible time is, to have an incompetent Commander in Chief, residing in the White House! ????

Fred Robertson
Fred Robertson
1 month ago

Yes, this is an excellent article. Thanks, Amac. Biden’s undermining of America’s defense is stunning. Whether it is on purpose or by convenience should not matter for Congress. I dare to say it is treason. The nation’s leader should respond to the court for such a destruction of the country. American people should not treat it lightly. Somebody should scrupulously document this awful damage for detailed analysis and reckoning. 

Rich
Rich
1 month ago

Wait, China aggressive? Does China Joe know about this? He might want a bigger pay cut.

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

It is way past time for us to stop funding other people’s wars and start building up a better defense system for us and therefore, our allies.

John
John
1 month ago

America is being put into the position by our ignorant Totalitarian Communist Democrat Party Comrade’s government of either surrendering unconditional or resorting to the use of nuclear weapons.In my opinion the nuclear one is the only choice we can make. I would rather have to survive in a post nuclear war environment than live under the Tyranny of a Totalitarian Authoritarian government, which by it’s very nature doesn’t respect life or human rights.

Pat R
Pat R
1 month ago

We basically have the least competent administration this nation has ever known!! And that, to me, includes Lyndon Johnson (who took over after JFK was assassinated) who was more concerned with beautification than getting us out of Vietnam. But even that shrinks compared to the diminished, or total lack of, respect of other countries for the USA since Biden took office. This country is done for if his handlers steal the 2024 election as they did in 2020 and nothing is done about it, again..

Sherry
Sherry
1 month ago

We are in trouble for sure from all fronts!

Kdesq
Kdesq
1 month ago

How in the world can an 886 BILLION dollar military budget be considered “underfunded”? If they would get rid of 90% of civilians at the Pentagon they would save billions. Get rid of dei, race bait garbage, etc. One day, according to the Bible, this is all going to end. I for one believe it.

Mike Lowersohn
Mike Lowersohn
1 month ago

America has been undefended under Biden. Every voter should realize this. As one of the experts said in this outstanding report, it is an inexcusable situation. Thanks, Ben and Amac.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 month ago

Get ready for ‘What’s his Face’ to appease his buddies Communist China and give the Philippines to them. He’s Surrendered everything else.

Samson
Samson
1 month ago

We better get Trump back in office and stomp these Chinese before it gets worse. If we don’t our grandkids might be speaking Chinese next. This is a real threat the Democrats have sold us out to China and they don’t care what happens to America, they just care about how much money they can make and Power.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 month ago

China thinks the whole South China Sea is “territorial waters”. Our “affordable I-Phones” pay for their military. We’re basically paying for our future wars these days!

PapaGrouch
PapaGrouch
1 month ago

Welll, you know the treasonous Obama/Biden administration can’t afford to transport and feed and house and give medical aid and educate all the millions of American-displacing-illegal-alien-democrat-parasite-disease-carrying-criminal voting base if they’re actually doing their job of defending the American people and boarders. That would be contrary to their ideological Marxist objectives. C’mon, man! Actually, given how they’ve begun hyper-inflation with the borrowing from their Chicom masters and printing money, they “can.” Nations die from within.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

BIDEN AND THE REST OF HIS TRAITOROUS CRONIES NEED TO BE EXECUTED FOR HIGH TREASON. AS LONG AS AMERICAN CITIZENS SIT ON THEIR THUMBS AND DO NOTHING TO STOP BIDEN, AMERICA AND THE REST OF THE FREE WORLD WILL CONTINUE TO DECLINE AND WHEN WE REACH THE BOTTOM, LIFE ANYWHERE WILL NOT BE NICE.

Howard
Howard
1 month ago

“The chickens are coming home to roost!” Every stupid, cowardly, crazy, Un-American, action that this insane POTUS and his Democrat cronies created and/or fomented after he became president, are coming back to haunt us, creating a nightmare that must be dealt with, perhaps by God’s divine retribution.

Clarence Dickerson
Clarence Dickerson
1 month ago

The Philippines used to be part of the U.S. We need to protect them.

Mario Capparuccini
Mario Capparuccini
1 month ago

I guess the grown-ups who took charge in 2021 are not really all that mature. That Biden has failed yet again is so surprising that I think I am going to have a heart attack! Biden, failure is your middle name.

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 month ago

This time around there is no McArthur

John Shipway
John Shipway
1 month ago

So…..America is concerned over China developing commercial ties to nations in its region and is also concerned over China bumping a Filipino military vessel then spraying the Filipino crew with………….water…..yet strangely no info is given regarding exactly where this Filipino vessel was located much less why it encountered a Chinese coast guard ship.
But with America pumping billions into the Philippines as a direct confrontation to China in an ongoing attempt at starting a war with China America WILL lose…..what can one expect
Dont believe China can defeat the mighty US Navy? Hell,the Houthis have and they dont even have a navy.
We are a paper tiger and have been for right around 80 years.

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