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Duterte’s Military Independence from the U.S. Creates New Opportunities for China

The South China Sea Map May Be Redrawn due to the Philippines’ move

Philippine Marines along with their US and Japanese counterparts participate in the Amphibious landing Exercise during the KAMANDAG 2019 at the Marine Base camp in Ternate, Cavite on 12 October 2019. Photo by Lito Borras/Rappler

Submitted by InfoBrics, authored by Paul Antonopoulos, Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies…

The Philippines officially announced the ending of the National Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States. The denial of the U.S. military’s presence will give China a chance to expand militarization of the South China Sea and severely weaken the U.S. positioning in Southeast Asia. The VFA, signed in 1998, established the legal status for U.S. warships, aircraft and soldiers to be stationed in the Philippines.

Philippine Secretary of State Teddy Locsin Jr. signed and sent to the US Government the same day an affirmation of Manila’s official cancellation of the agreement, saying on Twitter:

“The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the United States has received the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement. As a legal courtesy there will be no further factual announcements following this self-explanatory development.”

According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the agreement termination will take effect 180 days from today, adding that “It’s time we take care of ourselves. We will strengthen our defenses ourselves and not rely on any other country.”

Since Duterte came to power in 2016, he has repeatedly referred to severing ties with the U.S. while pursuing closer ties with non-traditional allies like Russia and China. The leader openly expressed his frustration with Washington when several U.S. officials made comments about his war on drugs. The discord was heightened when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution intended to punish Filipino officials involved in the drug war. Washington also was critical of the arrest of Senator Leila De Lima, a human rights activist and critic of the Duterte administration, who herself was arrested for drug-related allegations.

Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, who led the police force from 2016 to 2018, said the U.S. Embassy did not explain why his visa was cancelled but thought it was related to those murdered under his supervision. Duterte ordered an end to the military treaty after the U.S. cancelled the visas of Dela Rosa, who also took part in leading the war on drugs in the Philippines.

The cancellation of the VFA will benefit China mostly. The VFA has helped prevent China from strengthening construction and militarization of the West Coast Shoal since 2016. China urgently prepared to renovate and militarize this area before the decision of the International Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea sovereignty dispute was issued in July 2016. It was the VFA that prevented the conversion of Scarborough Shoal into a Chinese artificial island. The presence of the U.S. military’s A-10 Warthogs and F/A-18 fighters caused China to abandon the Scarborough idea.

Despite this, China completed construction structures on seven reefs and the Spratly Islands. The acquisition of Scarborough Shoal will give them greater control over the disputed waters in the South China Sea. The Chinese side took control of Scarborough from the Philippines in a tension between the two ships in 2012. Since then, China has maintained a military presence in the shoal with numerous maritime forces and coast guard vessels. It was China’s occupation of Scarborough that prompted the Philippine government to bring the matter to international court.

China asserts that Beijing has sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including the continental shelves of countries that share the same sovereignty claims on strategic maritime routes in the South China Sea, despite the Court’s ruling. The 2016 Permanent Arbitration denied and nullified all of China’s claims. After China conducted reclamation in the Spratlys and conducted illegal militarization, the U.S. became clear about the real danger posed by Beijing in the region against other regional states.

The three major Chinese artificial islands are just reef and outposts, almost impossible to attack.

The Philippines’ loss of the VFA will give China a chance to carry out its long-term goal. When the VFA is cancelled, China can completely eliminate other countries from the South China Sea militarily if it can deploy troops, build outposts and conduct militarization at all the locations of all these military bases.

Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier also emphasized that the regular presence of U.S. military forces prevented China from taking drastic actions in waters to the west of the Philippines. Does this now mean that Duterte will continue his path moving closer to China? There are still the major issues of dividing the South China Sea equitably that prevents a full alliance between Beijing and Manilla despite Duterte’s hostility to Washington. However, Duterte’s move has ensured that the Philippines has certainly opened the way for the South China Sea to be redrawn.

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Olivia Kroth
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I really like Paul’s articles a lot. They are always informative, with a good background.

Thraxite
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Thraxite

I disagree I feel Paul tends to paint everyone with the same brush. Not everyone thinks like an American. Even us Aussies, we might look like Americans (our politicians do not represent us, but that’s no different than anywhere else), but we are NOT Americans and see them as something strange (in societal terms), we certainly don’t act like them or want their policies played out over here. I can’t think of anything worse than every neighbour having a gun. I like that we don’t have a proliferation of guns, and that is a mindset very few Americans can envision… Read more »

oldandjaded
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oldandjaded

I see them (not just Paul Antonopolous, most of the posts from Info-brics for that matter) as shallow click-bait, devoid of any honest or meaningful indepth analysis and carefully engineered to avoid riling the mainstream consensus and draw upvotes from what they view as the Duran hive-mind, which they generally have a pretty good handle on, as we can see by the bulk of responses on this thread. The Duran version of CNN, intended to keep the proles safely within their ideological bubble.

Olivia Kroth
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TASS: Philippines terminates military agreement with the US – The notice of termination will be delivered to the US Embassy in Manila SINGAPORE, February 11. /TASS/. The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines notified the United States about termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, Dodo Dulay, Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns, tweeted Tuesday. “On the order of the President thru Executive Secretary [Salvador] Medialdea, Foreign Affairs Secretary [Teodoro] Locsin signed today the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which will be delivered to the US Embassy in Manila forthwith,” the undersecretary tweeted.… Read more »

Mike
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Mike

lol, do you believe your own lies???

The three major Chinese artificial islands are just reef and outposts, almost impossible to attack.

They can be destroyed with a volley of missiles very easily… Learn before you write!

DannyC
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DannyC

He doesn’t really think the US will just allow him to kick their troops out right? We saw how that just played out in Iraq

Olivia Kroth
Guest

And yet they are getting their heads bashed in in Afghanistan. Resistance against US exterminators is always worth a try.

Nicholas Hazen
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Nicholas Hazen

It will be interesting to see how the Americans respond. They usually do not take kindly to those who would encroach upon their Empire or question their exceptionalism.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Of course the US exterminators will not respond kindly. but if you don’t try you will never get rid of them. Why stay their slaves forever? No way!

Rick Oliver
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Rick Oliver

Duterte is not stupid !! He hated having to bow to the US Military , sexualising his people to the point of rape ! Plus he knew who was paying for the Isis brigade to be there in the South , stirring up trouble , as they usually do . Even the CIA drug cartel was supplying the poison to further destabilise the country ! Good on him I say , at least he is looking after his people , more than I can say for Trump .

oldandjaded
Member
oldandjaded

Its interesting to talk to Filipinos about Duterte, as I have done. But then the members of the Duran hive mind don’t talk to people outside their ideology, it would “harsh the vibe”….

oldandjaded
Member
oldandjaded

And clearly, they don’t like other people talking to them either. ROFL!!

Molapo
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Molapo

South China Sea and Chinese expansion into it: Aside from hearing a few snippets from a Chinese guest on RT’s Crosstalk, I’ve never really heard China’s side of the story.
(After hearing the Russians’ side of the story on matters relating to Georgia, Caucasus, Ukraine-Crimea, the New Cold War, etc I then realised it’s the US that’s the belligerent party, not Russia. So, I wonder if Chinese activities in the South China Sea are totally justified.)

US Ambassador sends strong message to Netanyahu: patience, young grasshopper, you’ll annex the West Bank soon

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