The US Will Not Help the Philippines Defend the Spratlys

US President Barack Obama conferring with Philippine President Benigno Aquino during Obama's visit to the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Getty Images
US President Barack Obama conferring with Philippine President Benigno Aquino during Obama’s visit to the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

President Barrack Obama’s visit to the Philippines last April 28-29, 2014 was very important because it more or less answered one of the most important questions in the minds of Filipinos right now which is, will the United States (US) help the Philippines retain its territories in the Spratly Islands? Sadly, the answer is a clear … NO. There are a couple of indications on why this is so, let me try to enumerate them one by one.

‘Historical Position’
Historically as early as 1975 the US had already outlined its position on the Spratlys Islands, specifically in a telegram sent by the then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet that was declassified in 2006.1 In it, Kissinger outlined that they consider the ownership of the Spratlys as “undetermined” and that they take a “neutral” stance in the claims of various countries in terms of ownership. This means that the US does NOT recognize our ownership of territories in the Spratly Islands, this is because they say NONE of those territories were ceded over to them in the Treaty of Paris in 1898 when Spain surrendered some of their colonies (including the Philippines) to the US. So all the while we’re telling the Americans that those Spratly Islands are ours, they are saying back, “Oh no they’re not, nobody owns those yet.”

Now what about if Philippine forces were attacked while occupying territories in the Spratlys, for example, will the US come to our aid, then? Well, Kissassinger have an answer for that also. He says that the US is NOT obligated to come to the aid of those Philippine forces if they occupied territories without the consent or approval of the US. Now we ARE currently stationing troops in the Spratlys, and since there is no clear approval from the US to station our troops there due to their neutral position, then they can wash their hands of any involvement regardless of what happens to those forces.

‘International Observations and Factors’
While the US is NOT LEGALLY bound to help our cause in the Spratlys, they can still come to our aid for political reasons if they want to do so. HOWEVER, a couple of international observers have expressed doubt that the US will indeed help the Philippines against China on the issue of the Spratly’s islands for political reasons, and among them is Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (LKY).2 LKY, the architect of Singapore’s rise into first world status, still holds a lot of prestige, and thus his opinions do carry a lot of weight in the Asian region. Lee opines that the US will not sacrifice its relations with China on the issue of the Spratlys not only for political reasons but also for economic reasons as well.

US imports of Chinese goods have been around USD 400 Billion per year the last couple of years,3 and China has also become the largest foreign creditor of the US, holding around 11% of the US debt at around USD 1.25 Trillion.4 Thus any move that could affect the economic relations of both countries, like war for example, will mean dire consequences for the economies of both countries.5

‘From the Horse’s Mouth’
Barrack Obama reiterated the US’ historical position about the Spratlys during his visit here, albeit in an indirect manner. Local Journalists asked Obama directly during a Press Conference if the US will defend the Philippines if the Spratly Islands issue turn into an armed conflict, and his response was: “We do not have claims in this area territorially. We are an Asia Pacific nation and our prominent interest is peaceful resolution of conflict … And we don’t even take specific positions on the disputes between nations.”6

As everyone can see, Obama did not just “beat around the bush”, he DANCED and jiggled around it, and probably even did the Macarena. He did not say “no”, but clearly he did not say yes either. In fact it seems he wanted to say “no”, but became diplomatic about it and just replied with an incredibly evasive answer that was neither here nor there.

The Senkaku Islands, whose claim by Japan the US had no problems recognizing. Photo courtesy of The Japan Times website
The Senkaku Islands, whose claim by Japan the US had no problems recognizing. Photo courtesy of The Japan Times website

To make matters worst, Obama then gave a follow up statement saying, “Our goal is not to counter China; Our goal is not to contain China.” Now, if we take this IN CONTEXT with our present problems with China, then this is a slap in our faces because basically he is saying they don’t care that China is bullying its neighbors in the Spratly Islands, he is saying that China’s expansion is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.

‘Importance’
I think that we need the help of the US to help us defend our territories against China because without their help, I just don’t see any way how we can keep the Chinese from getting those Spratlys territories if they really want to. China is no ordinary country, they are projected to be the NUMBER ONE economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world this year (2014) surpassing that of the US, the first time in 140 years that the US will give up its position as the number one economy in the world.7 In comparison, the Philippines’ ranking by GDP is number 39, or 38 rungs lower than China.8

As a result of its powerful economy, China also has one of the most powerful militaries in the world, projected at number 3 overall in the world (the Philippines is ranked only at number 37, or 34 places lower).9 Hence, in dealing with a country as economically and militarily powerful as China, there are just NO SHORTCUTS. Its not like we just buy military equipment here and there and then suddenly we can stand up to them … It just doesn’t work out that way. In order for us to able to stand up to them on our own and keep them at bay without the help of the US, it will take YEARS, probably at least a DECADE OR SO of CONTINUOUS military build up.

‘US Alliance?’
The question begs then, if the US won’t help us defend our territories in the Spratly Islands, then what’s the use of us siding with them? Well, for one I think the US will help defend MAINLAND Philippines, which means all of our major territories like Palawan thus would be safe from Chinese ambitions. With American troops in the Philippines, China would not dare attack our mainland and would just have to be content with the Spratlys territories … For now.

Also, the US’ reluctance to help us is based on the fact that they don’t believe in our ownership claim of the Spratlys. The Philippine government has already filed a case with the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to bolster and establish once and for all our claims on those islands, and IF they rule in our favor, then I expect that the US will CHANGE their position and that they will be OBLIGATED to help us defend those islands also.

I am basing this on the fact that while Obama dilly-dallied on the issue of the Spratlys, he did NOT hesitate to specifically and directly commit in public that the US will help Japan defend the Senkaku Islands against China if the issue turned into an armed conflict.10 This is probably because the US believes that Japan has a better, solid claim to those islands. HOWEVER, if ITLOS rules in our favor, and the US still maintains its current position of non-interference, then we will have a big problem, not only with China, but also with the US.

‘Parting Shot’
Obama’s statements during his visit clearly showed that America is still sticking to that position outlined by Kissassinger long ago, that they don’t believe our ownership of those islands and thus are in no obligation to help us defend them. That SHOULD change if ITLOS rules in our favor, but then again if they make any other ruling NOT in our favor, then they will continue to stick to their current position. Hence the ITLOS ruling is VERY critical for us, it will decide whether we get to keep our territories in the Spratlys or not, and possibly if we need to continue with the current status of our alliance with the US or not.

A good view of the poorly maintained airstrip on Pag Asa Island, one of the islands claimed by the Philippines in the Spratly Islands chain
A good view of the poorly maintained airstrip on Pag Asa Island, one of the islands claimed by the Philippines in the Spratly Islands chain

SOURCES:


  1. Will Washington defend the Philippines?,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20150909131532/http://www.tribune.net.ph/commentary/will-washington-defend-the-philippines
  2. Lee: US won’t risk China relations over sea row,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20140406192734/http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/04/03/14/lee-us-wont-risk-china-relations-over-sea-row
  3. Trade in Goods with China,
    (https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html
  4. China Retains Position as the Largest Foreign Creditor of U.S.,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20140326105316/http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-15/china-retains-position-as-the-largest-foreign-creditor-of-u-s-.html
  5. What happens in a US debt default?,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20160424050020/http://www.bbc.com/news/business-24453400
  6. No categorical commitment from US on China dispute,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20140430061928/http://www.rappler.com/nation/56620-no-us-commitment-ph-china-row
  7. China To Have World’s Largest Economy This Year: World Bank,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20161107094416/http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/03/china-worlds-largest-economy_n_5255825.html
  8. Wikipedia List of countries by GDP (nominal),
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20140709073319/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)
  9. Countries Ranked by Military Strength (2014),
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20140710064526/http://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing.asp
  10. US President Obama promised to defend Senkaku but not Spratlys,
    (https://web.archive.org/web/20160312211005/http://raissarobles.com/2014/04/28/us-president-obama-promised-to-defend-senkaku-but-not-spratlys/
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46 thoughts on “The US Will Not Help the Philippines Defend the Spratlys”

  1. Now that was an eye opener. But…a big but…the us can assist in monitoring chinese activity by gathering evidence and they can harrass chinese interference by flying low and snapping pictures. If china gets belligerent or does something stupid to us citizens it can do tit for tat missions. Still they will not help rp openly about spratlys. Now my advice is that those leftist @holes in congress shut up and not delay modernization. In effect they got what they wanted now its up to them to put money where their mouth is and help our afp modernize on its own. If they still protest then they are truly traitors happy to act all masa but are communista in disguise.

  2. Hi RHK, how significant will US change their position if ITLOS rules in our favor?

    AND What will happen if, because it is possible, the ITLOS will not rule in our favor?

    What are the best and/or other options (not named US) for PH to solidify claim on the Spratlys other than improving our external defense?

    1. Well, that is the thing. If the ITLOS rules in our favor, then the US SHOULD help us defend the Spratlys, after all, they committed to defend the Senkakus with Japan. But if NOT, then ‘bastusan na ito.’

      If ITLOS doesn’t rule in our favor … Then no US help. Furthermore, it will weaken our claims in the eyes of the international community, we will be on our own.

      The thing is that with or without the Spratlys, we will need to continue to build up our external defense capabilities, since we will now be sitting to the soon-to-be number 1 economy in the world. Either that … Or adopt a more neutral stance towards China. Either ‘kalabanin natin, o makisama tayo sa kanila’ …

  3. The moment PH will ‘makisama tayo sa kanila’ to the extent of dealing with them Strongly & Deeply in all facets of bilateral relations, US ceases to be a superpower then, Sokor is also forced to also deal with China and Japan is an isolated nation vulnerable to attacks from their former tormentees.

    I don’t see that happening. At least, in my lifetime perhaps but I believe it CAN happen.

    1. Its not a pleasant thought, but China is not a “kind” superpower, they are an authoritarian or dictatorial superpower, hence that is the problem. The US is waning, while China is getting stronger.

      By the way, yeah, I think I will change my references from “ICJ” to “ITLOS”, my blog doesn’t read right …

  4. Your argument that the United States of America will not respond to aid the Philippines should the PRC secede the Kalayaan Islands is quite extraneous simply because it overlooked the consequent geopolitical events following such decision.

    Let’s take the look at a plausible future scenario: In case of failure of the US government to militarily intervene in case of an occupation in Kalayaan islands, expect its allies, including Japan to take a unilateral response to prevent a similar invasion in the also disputed Senkaku islands. We can expect to see actions that are against US policy, ranging from acquisition of nuclear weapons to wide-scale rearmament to be made by the Japanese government in the absence of ineptitude of Uncle Sam to intervene.

    We can also expect other US allies like Germany, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to do the same thing. In response, regional powerhouses like Russia and maybe, even Iran may proceed to increase its already large inventories of war armaments. This events will eventually lead to a transition from a unipolar global political setting, to a multipolar one, thus increasing chances to a world-wide conflict. Please take note that the situation in Ukraine is very far in the Philippine setting because
    1.) the United States have direct interest on the West Philippine Sea because it affects both of its economic and political hold in East Asia where trade amounting to trillions of dollars are conducted.
    2.) The Philippines is a major ally (by treaty) of the US, similar to Japan, Germany, South Korea and Israel to name a few.

    Thus, it is abound to protect the Philippines and its territorial interests. United States is actually ensuring its security through global hegemony. Acquiring that status requires holding most of the economic powerhouses under its control resulting to its security umbrella ( one good example is NATO) which results to its “warmongering”. The United States cannot afford this arrangement to collapse because its security depends on it. So in conclusion, even if it doesn’t want to, US is expected, not just by us, but by the entire international community, to respond militarily should the occupation of the so-called “irrelevant” small islets happen.

    1. Well, its not just my argument, Paul. Its Henry Kissinger clearly outlining the position of the US with regards to the Spratly Islands in a written memo.

      And what about Obama clearly evading the question of whether the US will help the Philippines if the Spratlys issue turns into an armed conflict?

      I would love for the US to help us out, but the evidence from the US government shows otherwise.

      1. Its obvious Obama just wanted the US to have “wiggle room” on the issue of the Spratleys, its NOT an outright NO…its just a big MAYBE so the US will have the flexibiility to address specific future crisis regarding the Spratleys, also to keep China guessing on what it will actually do. While economic issues plays a big role regarding China, so does regional security in this part of the world, China taking over Spratleys is a big strategic blow to that effect enabling them to take over the whole south china sea (imagine chinese bases on each big islet) and poses security risks to other allies japan sokor australia asean and the US must not allow this to happen… Kissenger made that statement back in the cold war era with russia and geopolitical issues were different then.

    2. That’s another way of looking at how the US will respond in the event of China ‘FORCIBLY’ taking the Spratlys from the Philippines.

      But in current situation judging by the actions (or should I say inactions by the US in the major developments globally), points raised by RHK here supports that theory.

      In fact, reluctance by the US to provide more firepower for the country is the best example.

  5. i think what mr. redeker is saying that itlos or not if china decides to take on our spratlys it will send a chilling effect across the world status quo and like it or not the Us and its allies will respond. It sends a dangerous message that china can do it anywhere and destroy what little influence the US has left. The US can ill afford to look weak if it intends to maintain its hegemony The bad part is that we might be the test case and being the test case means we either screw it up or china hopefully screws up more. dont expect malaysia or singapore to do anything though. with all of their posturing and hardware it amounts to just that and would rather save their hides rather than help. maybe rhk could also tackle the issue if we get attacked who will help us in the asean and who would take advantage of the situation.

    1. Nice suggestion Omar because ASEAN region is gaining the world attention because of major political and significant economic developments.

    2. The US intervening if China occupies the Spratlys I think it is all just speculation for now, and statements from the US actually point to the contrary. I think the US will file a protest to the UN, file economic and diplomatic sanctions … But they will not go to war over the Spratlys. They will do everything they can, but short of war.

  6. The problem is not the US but Obama. This president will go down in US history as the worst. America’s challenges from Bengazi, Syria, Obamacare, Illegals in the border, walking out of Iraq and Afghanistan to now Ukraine shows how this left leaning-socialist-undecided mindset will probably be the same when the Chicoms starts grabbing our islands. I hope nothing happens before he is out by 2016.

  7. It is essential to distinguish between territorial claim and maritime claim

    Claims on territorial sovereignty or the ownership of insular features such as islets and rocks is outside the jurisdiction of ITLOS. Even after the arbitration tribunal ruling, the ownership of these insular features such as the Scarborough shoal will remain disputed

    The arbitration case filed by the Philippines mainly seeks ruling on Philippines’ maritime entitlements and that China’s nine-dash line is inconsistent with international law

    In addition, Philippines also seeks ruling that the Scarborough is a rock and therefore is entitled only to a 12 nmile territorial sea and does not generate the 200 nmile EEZ. Furthermore, of the eight features in the Spratlys occupied by China, five are submerged reefs or low-tide elevations, which generate no maritime entitlements. Three features are rocks which generate entitlements of only 12 nmiles

    The Philippine legal strategy is brilliant

    By setting aside the territorial claims, the Philippines could access ITLOS to interrogate the larger proportion of the disputes which is maritime in nature

    The greater majority of the complexities and many elements of the South China Sea disputes could be coalesced into the largest issue which is China’s nine-dash line. The favourable outcome to the Philippine claims will rule “the nine-dash line is illegal”

    Philippines has employed the counsel of Paul Reichler of the US law firm Foley Hoag who posses a strong track record of representing smaller countries against larger countries on disputes under ICJ and ITLOS

    If China holds to its current position not to actively participate in the arbitration, the proceedings will be a lot shorter than the normal three to five years. We could estimate the tribunal to dispense ruling in 2015

    1. If the ITLOS ruling won’t strengthen our claims to the Spratlys, then that means the US still will not commit to helping us defend them, as per their position in the past.

      HOWEVER, if the ITLOS ruling will say that China’s 9-Dash Line is illegal and they still try to enforce it, the US might still intervene because they are committed to keeping the sea lanes open. SO, it might mean that the US might not defend the Spratlys for us, but they might do so for the sake of keeping the freedom of navigation of the seas.

      This scenario is worth keeping tabs to, let’s see what happens in the next couple of years …

  8. Please allow me to articulate why the US will defend the Philippines more actively as you have presented

    Other than its increasing frequency of media rhetoric, the US has not yet taken any physical action. This is largely because of China taking much care to calibrate its acts to be just below the threshold that will trigger US physical action. With this “salami tactic”, China was wishing to hit two birds with one stone – i.e., progressively gain tactical advantage and, simultaneously, erode US reputation

    The actual outcome clearly did not work to China’s plans

    China’s reputation eroded exponentially quicker than that of the US. The strategic gain for China is very little and not worthwhile

    The time tested Machiavellian principle applies here. It is not a sound strategy to prolong the infliction of pain. The international community now recognizes that China’s aggressive “semi-civilian” acts are all but a farce. Thanks to the vigilance of Vietnam, Japan and Philippines in putting China’s recent acts into the spotlight of international opinion. China’s use of Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels is now clearly viewed by the international community as simply ‘acts of aggression’. The act is like a bully saying that you are lucky that I only slapped you rather than punch your face

    So much has transpired in just the last month left alone the events after H Kissinger’s telegram of 1975

    The US and Japan are now rapidly posturing to impose cost on China if China continues its aggressive acts to change status qou. To wit –

    * US senate has just passed Resolution 412. This intensifies the US commitment with its Mutual Defense Treaties with the Philippines and Japan in relation to the SCS dispute. It demands China not to take destabilizing and unilateral acts to change status quo. The US executive is not alone and is now backed strongly by the US senate on the SCS issue

    * Japan has just reinterpreted its constitution to allow it to engage militarily outside Japan in aid of its ally

    * Australia has officially stated support to Japan’s reinterpretation and that it will stand up to liberal principles, peace and rule of law. This is to the great surprise of China as it is the largest trading partner of Australia

    * CSIS conference a couple of weeks surfaced that Pentagon is working on to specific tactical plans to apply physical cost to China if China continues its aggressive acts

    * EDCA is in place and US troops and material will build up presence on Philippine soil

    * South Korea has recently increased assistance in arming Philippines with naval assets

    Looking back just a couple of months ago and like you, I also estimated that The Philippines had to get a favourable ITLOS tribunal ruling before most of the above can be politically achieved . Now, I am happily wrong

    There was this one nation we must give credit for immensely helping in achieving all of the above – Hilariously, it is China itself !

    1. Amazing insight rhoydec… However, I still have to remind you that China is one hell of a stubborn VILLAIN or bully as you call them.

      Besides, EDCA is still under the scrutiny of the SC. While it remains to be seen how the recent moves of the Aussies and the Japs would affect or influence the development in the region

      All of that is what we call in Filpino parlance as “Drowing (drawing) pa lang!”.

    2. Its true that the US Senate has passed a resolution strengthening its Mutual Defense Treaty with us, but at the same time we just cannot ignore Obama’s evasion of the question about defending the Spratly Islands with the Philippines. The way I see it, you have one part of the US government saying one thing while another part of it says another.

      For me what’s important is what the Commander in Chief says since ultimately he will be the one who will execute any plans to defend the Spratlys. So for me unless I see him publicly commit to defending the Spratlys like he did with the Senkakus, then I’m not convinced he will really do it.

  9. I’m having the laugh of my life now with this news:

    http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/07/23/1349457/us-give-c-130-planes-philippines

    Tinamaan siguro ng hiya ang America.

    As if I want to tell this to Uncle Sam:

    “Hindi ka naman mabiro kuya!. Pero eto seryoso: sana iba na lang binigay mo kasi kaya naman namin bumili nyan.

    Baka naman kasi binigay mo lang yan para paboran namin yung Scorpion plane mo.

    Promise, kuya ha, wag ganun…”

    And well, I said it na…

    1. Goodness, they give Pakistan and Egypt A BILLION DOLLARS a year in Military Aid, and both countries still treat them like thrash. For example, a recent survey in Pakistan still shows that most Pakistanis will still side with Chinese rather than the Americans. A billion dollars a year for 60 years, and the Pakistanis still don’t like them.

      Anyway, I am grateful for the US’ assistance in this instance …

      1. I can imagine your actuations and facial expressions when scribbling this remark RHK.

        Hahahaha!

      2. What was your insight Rhk about this. Why US our long time allie give us a minimal 50 million dollar of funds, but egypt and pakistan which there citizens hate americans give billions of dollar in military aid. Do you think this is the payback of uncle sam because our government kick them out in the presidency of Cory Aquino?

      3. Well, in fairness, both Pakistan and Egypt are quite important as far as World Politics are concerned. Egypt is important because it is the largest Islamic country in the Middle East in terms of population of and land area. It also has a lot of prestige, being one of the oldest civilizations in the world and also the birthplace of Islam (it was where Mohammed founded the religion of Islam). So Egypt is a trendsetter as far as the Islamic world is concerned, wherever they go, the other smaller islamic countries could go also.

        As for Pakistan, it is the only Islamic country in the world with nuclear weapons, and it is also under attack internally from Islamic fundamentalists, so there it is in a very dangerous situation if those fundamentalists gets hold of nuclear weapons.

  10. Many thanks for your comment, Deewii

    My view is, the SCS dispute will not amount to nothing more than a skirmish. Both China and the US will quickly work to de-escalate if something close to a shooting incident arises. I posit further that the US knows that it will be mainly China who will want to de-escalate

    I already mentioned above the progressing shift of the US approach from mere rhetoric to imposing physical cost to China if it continues aggressive acts to change the status quo

    It was quite entertaining to watch the simulation of Washington facing a theoretical SCS scenario during the CSIS conference a couple of weeks ago. Highly recommended and available in CSIS’s Youtube

    The theoretical scenario –
    The Chinese CG has again blockaded Philippines from resupplying the troops at Siera Madre. The Washington cabinet was represented by ex-senior staff from Defense, NSA, Foreign affairs, etc

    The cabinet resolution –
    Quiet diplomacy by Washington to Beijing that US will physically intervene and not allow to troops to run out of food. Deployment of a US navy vessel to penetrate the Chinese blockade

    That is all what the situation needs. Nothing more

    In late March, the PN successfully resupplied Siera Madre using a small civilian vessel. The navigation skills of the PN captain helped a lot but the US P8 Poseidon intentionally flying low was what really did the work

    The might of the US navy with its ten active Nimitz aircraft carriers is a “hammer”. China, even with its A2/AD in SCS and the Liaoning is not close. Washington, Tokyo and Malacanan will be doing this planet a great disservice if the SCS issue in its current state is declared a “nail”

    Trust me – We all want the situation in the SCS to remain as “drowing”

    1. This is somewhat reassuring. What I was envisioning is China slowly but surely tightening the screws in the Spratlys, and us gradually losing more and more of the Spratlys territories. If Uncle Sam will really intervene, then that would great.

      But we still need to be able to stand on our own, a responsible Philippines will not rely everything on the US. It will take us a decade or so of CONTINUOUS military build up to get to the point that China will have 2nd thoughts of going at us even without the help of the US, so we need to keep doing that …

  11. Thanks for your comment, Rhk111

    I am also a firm advocate for AFP modernization and look forward to your next blog of “Countering . . .”

    The US wants the players to do their part and the players are responding

    It is quite clear that the US is behind Japan’s reinterpretation of its pacifist constitution. The US is also likely behind the immediately following Australian statement supporting the reinterpretation in the pain of risking its largest trade which is with China

    It is not a coincidence that the coastal radars being procured by Vietnam and Philippines are of the same brand from Israel

    If you look closely at the geography of the Chinese reef reclamation it is within the vicinity of the features they currently occupy. Makes you think why China does not do it at Ayungin instead? If we are anxious, I posit that China is now more anxious or even desperate –

    * It’s withdrawal of the drilling rig 981is a sign that China is bending from the weight of all those I mentioned above. This at the cost of losing Vietnam from China’s orbit and that gay act of absorbing some 1,400 ship rammings. Makes you think why China did not fire a single shot. Why China did not choose to position the rig over the Reed bank near Palawan?

    * At the time Australia was stating support to Japan’s reinterepretation, President Xi visited the Korean peninsula for the first time – not in Pyongyang but in Seoul. This is in an attempt to improve it’s diplomatic position in the region capitalizing on South Korea’s friction with Japan’s WWII history. This is very desperate and futile act because it had to dump North Korea its only ally in the region. South Korea has 28,000 US soldiers it is paying for to be on its soil

    In conclusion, on the SCS issue, China has proven to be very predictable. The US needed not to make the “pivot to Asia” and “AirSea battle” more than a just a slogan. Left alone, China will damage itself. As Napoleon said – “Do not disrupt the enemy when it is in the middle of committing a mistake”

    1. Its going to take a bit more time to finish my blog about countering China, anything related to strategy usually is a little bit more difficult to make, but I will try to finish it within next month …

  12. Unless China invades those features we occupy in the Spratly’s it will be difficult for the US to get involved in contested islets and rocks

    The above should not distract us from a key objective which is the Reed Bank. The USGS EIA estimates between 0.8 to 5.4 billion barrels of oil there. In mean value, that is US $250 billion. I have excluded the value of natural gas which is estimated to be between 5.6 to 55.1 trillion cu.f.

    In all, EIA estimates the SCS to contain 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cu.f of natural gas. Consequently, Reed bank draws a lot of commercial interest as it has nest of the deposits

    The Reed bank is within Philippine EEZ. However, China has harassed our exploration efforts there. The bank is within the nine-dash line. The only thing blocking Chinese access is Ayungin’s Siera Madre

    With the ITLOS ruling, it will be politically impossible for China to prevent us from extracting oil and gas from the Reed bank

    1. In that case, in order to protect Reed Bank, we will really need to establish “Sea Control”, and not just “Sea Denial”. Its the more expensive option, as it means more capable ships. Its not going to be easy, China’s West Philippine Sea Fleet has 8 Destroyers, 17 Frigates and 8 Submarines, not to mention their aircraft carriers that are coming. It will mean a harder, more difficult and more expensive buildup for us …

      1. I so much agree with you, Rhk111

        Just to provide a quick commercial reference –

        * 40% of Malaysia’s economy is anchored on oil and gas with the majority contributed by its oil rigs at SCS. Malaysia preferred to stay quiets about the SCS issue in exchange of not being molested by China

        * Malampaya which is a much smaller deposit powers close to half of Luzon’s grid in addition to the Malampaya fund. Some Chinese hardliner claims that Malampaya is within the nine-dash line

        We are now faced with the duty to protect our EEZ for the sake of our children and the next Filipino generation

        I came from the oil and gas industry BTW, now in the mining industry

      2. malaysia should open its eyes. the 9 0r 11 dash line still encompasses some of its claims molestation or no molestation. more importantly they are essentially sleeping with the enemy. leaving rp and vietnam to fend for themselves. what is to say that after our spratlys claim they go for their claims as well. maybe they are just that good in sleeping with china.

      3. Wow! If Israel is predicted to discover black gold that will cause a tremendous envy from its neighbors, Philippines is SITTING on a vast black gold deposit that is making a bully go crazy.

        What an amazing insight from an amazing rhoydec.

  13. nice to hear the exchange of commentaries. if all goes well then the spratlys will remain peaceful as of now. the only thing worrying is china does not play the same rules as we do and our western partners. remember the stand off between our hamilton and the chinese coast guard. i assume we pulled out knowing the chinese would follow but instead they closed off the area and stayed. their fishermen clearly poached but it was us who backed down. their arrogance is the most difficult to predict and will be their undoing.

  14. we have also to understand that the united states have already ill feelings against us when we kicked them out in subic and clark. with only $500m lease per year (which in 1991 is already a huge amount) for both bases they have unhampered used of the facilities for their global operations, including non-disclosure of ships and planes carrying nuclear weapons.

    the loss of the 2 bases which is considered the biggest outside the united states is a big lost to the united states since its position is very strategic that should cut cost their operations in southeast asia and Indian ocean (middle east and africa) which now a volatile region,

    if they have given egypt and pakistan military aide of billion of dollars because u.s. feesl that at this time is more important to be supported militarily because their fall to the fundamentalist will create a domino effect in their respective region.

    we have to accept also at this time the philippines and the WPS is not the primary concern of u.s. now because the barak administration declared is not its priority and main concern.

    so it is for us to decide. we are on our own if the issue is about WPS. that is why there is a need for the executive, congress and senate to decide on these issues how we will counter the intrusion of china PNOY cannot do it alone. actually every time PNOY decides without congress and senate is just like a suicide but his decisions is national security.. .

    1. I agree that the US does have ill feelings about the Philippines for kicking them out, this is probably why we have not been getting much aid in terms of military equipment from them. But then again, we are not exactly asking for a billion dollars a year in aid, and the Philippines is important for the US since we are their most reliable ally in the SEA.

      Who are they going to approach in SEA? Vietnam? Malaysia, Singapore, or Thailand, countries with large ethnic Chinese in their populations? Indonesia, who as an Islamic country is naturally wary of them? I feel that as a reliable ally, we should be getting at least more, especially if other countries they are giving more aid to are not treating them well.

      1. that is right rhk111, from world war 2, korean war and vietnam we fought side by side with them in the same fox holes, thats why i cannot understand why u.s. have a short memory or they just force themselves to forget, one example when they surrendered the philippines to the japanese it is the filipinos who did not stop fighting instead went to the mountains fought a guerilla warfare for u.s. sake.

        if there is a nation in this planet who could be relied upon by the americans it is us. in the korean war we sent only a battalion combat team but fought like a division and was recognize by the world as the best fighting unit in the korean war by beating a horde of more than 40 thousand chinese by only 1,200 filipinos, inflicting 7 thousand casualties to the chinese and losing only more or less 20 from our side. In world war 2 we been declared the best fox hole soldiers, in the korean war because of our spartan like the famous american general douglas mcarthur even declared “give me 10,000 filipino soldiers, i will conquer the world”.

        WE SPILLED OUR BLOOD BECAUSE OF U.S. SAKE.

        I HOPE AMERICANS WILL READ MY COMMENT BECAUSE NOW THEY EVEN DARED TO SAY THAT THE FILIPINOS ARE INDEBTED TO THEM BUT IT IS THE REVERSE. WHAT A SHORT MEMORY.

      2. Yeah, we did share a lot of history with them, mainly positive ones, too. But kicking them out of the country is a sore spot for them, it seems they really took that personally.

        Remember those politicians who voted for kicking the Americans out of the country? They seem to be pretty silent about China’s aggression now. I would like our local media to start pressuring them about their decision, let’s see what they have to say now …

      3. Plus, we decided to have closer ties with Russia after their butts got kicked in Vietnam, then we joined the axis of weasels during Dubya’s war on Iraq. It’s a steady and constant antagonism actually. Not merely a love-hate affair.

        Let’s review on history to see if we were really that close to the US.

        We were never totally on their side during WW2. We told their soldiers to go screw themselves in Corregidor, declared Manila to be an Open City so that the Japs can freely march in to establish a stronghold, We never lifted a finger during the Death March, snitched on the guerrilla activities occurring in the countryside then particpated in the Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere agenda. Most of us were collaborators, not resistance fighters, because if it were the other way around, the japs could not have gotten a foothold. That’s why when the Americans came back with a vengeance, they decided to howitzer the whole place killing all japs and filipinos alike.

        As for the Korean war, the Chinese got clobbered by US artillery and decided to surrender by the thousands. They converged on the Filipino location hoping that they will be more lenient than the Americans, instead they were herded towards a confined location where they were peppered with machinegun fire. Senior officers of other contingents got horrified of this atrocity that they hurriedly relieved the Pinoys of their mission and sent them packing. Upon returning home, the shameless war criminals portrayed themselves as war heroes with superhuman fighting capabilities triumphant despite being outnumbered forty to one. 1,200 Filipinos killing 40,000 Chinese! WoW!! That’s stupendous indeed!

        You see, both the Americans and the Chinese have an axe to grind against us, This explains China’s recent bullying and tantrums as well as America’s dilly-dallying. The only friends we probably have right now are the japs and the viets because both the US and Sokor are really aligned to China.

  15. I respect your views RaymondX but i have to correct with figures. in the korean war the 10th BCT composed of more or less 1,200 faced 40,000 killed 7,000 chinese with a loss in our side of only 20 more or less.

    further, if your saying our soldiers in the korean war have made atrocities such as what you said a thousand of chinese were brought to the filipino sector and machine gunned and massacred them you have to show your real facts and evidence because our heroes like capt. conrado yap and the rest of the filipino soldiers who died in that foreign will be dishonored because of your claims. you much remember the most noted atrocities recorded in the korean war was done by the chines, north koreans, south koreans and even the americans. hope you can give us official records on this matter.

    further, in world war 2 every country under occupation by the japanese and germans have collaborators and that does not exempt in the philippines. but if you asked the surviving filipinos in world war 2, they hate the japanese and love the americans and they were there when it happens.

  16. Raymond X, you do not know what you are saying. please read your history. Please don’t accuse the Filipinos of not lifting a finger during the Death March. To straighten your facts, Thousands of Filipinos died during that single event. Whereas, only about 500 americans died. In Corregidor, Filipinos fought side by side with the Americans.
    Also, the very reason that McArthur was able to escape towards Australia was because the Filipinos acted as blocking force against the Japanese. Yes, there were Japanese conspirators in the Philippines but there were more guerrillas and civilians who were against the invaders. Probably, it holds true in your place, wherever that is, but in my place and probably in every other part of the Philippines,the Filipinos supported the guerrillas and American soldiers. For your information, the guerrillas fighting in the Philippines were Filipinos.
    Also, it was the Americans who declared Manila as an open city because they did not want manila to be bombed. as for your version of why the US bombed Manila, it was because the Japanese would never surrender despite on the verge of defeat.

    As for the Korean War, the Chinese were not surrendering, they were attacking. you don’t bring your weapon if you surrender. Please read on the Battle of Yultong and the other battles involving the Philippine Expeditionary Force. I would assume that you meant the Battle of Hill Eerie when you mean that most of the Chinese and north Koreans died because of artillery fire. But there was never an incident that I have read that showed that Filipinos “machine gunned” chinese @$$ while they were surrendering.
    I don’t know what school you studied your history in or what book you have been reading. I suggest that you hit the library lest you encounter a fictitious account of the Korean War while surfing the internet and probably coming up with some other crazy theory. But if you will be so adamant with your views then I will just have to respect such despite how preposterous it would seem. Please show your sources as you are dishonoring all our veterans including my grandfather.

    1. I think this missile would be more for the US because from the Chinese province of Hainan all the way to the furthest part of the Philippines is less than 3,000 km, and China actually has a lot of ballistic missiles that can hit any part of the Philippines if they want to.

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