China’s military expansion in the South China Sea
Emphasize support for the Philippines in territorial disputes
US Vice President Kamala Harris, who is on a tour of the Philippines, reaffirmed the mutual defense agreement on the 21st, which includes the intervention of US forces in case of an attack on the Philippines while checking the expansion of influence China in the South China Sea. He also decided to build a new base in the Philippines in addition to the five existing military bases in the United States.
According to the White House and foreign media, Vice President Harris met with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Philippine Presidential Palace on the same day to discuss ways of cooperation in areas such as national defense, nuclear energy, food security, digital economy, and human rights.
At the meeting, Vice President Harris said, “We reaffirm the unwavering commitment of the United States to stand together to uphold rules and norms in the South China Sea.” This suggests the possibility of direct US involvement in China’s armed provocation against the Philippine military. He also emphasized that “the United States supports the Philippines in accordance with the decision of the international community regarding the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.”
In response, President Marcos Jr. showed a strong will to cooperate, saying, “There is no future for the Philippines without the involvement of the United States.” Vice President Harris is the highest ranking US government official to visit the Philippines since President Marcos took office on June 30.
The United States and the Philippines signed a joint defense treaty in 1951. In 2014, the Expanded Defense Forces Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed to rotate fighter jets and warships to five local bases in the Philippines for humanitarian or maritime security purposes .
The White House announced that it has allocated $82 million to 21 projects to strengthen EDCA, coinciding with Vice President Harris’ trip to the Philippines. In addition, last minute negotiations are underway with the Philippine side to add new bases to the existing five EDCA military bases that can be used by the US military. A high-ranking official in the Biden administration said, “We are working to expand the EDCA military base,” but did not say the exact location and number of new military bases.
The US is expected to actively use the Philippine military base to defend Taiwan, where the risk of conflict with China is increasing. In addition, given that former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took a pro-China step during his tenure, the US Biden administration intends to strengthen closeness to President Marcos Jr. and keep control of China.
During this visit, Vice President Harris will visit the Island of Palawan, which is located in the southwestern part of the Philippines, to meet with officers from the Coast Guard. Here, he also decided to present a message about sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom of navigation. Palawan Island is an island near the Spratly Islands, which is the subject of a dispute between the Philippines and China.
The territorial dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea continues.
The day before, when the Philippine Navy discovered and towed a floating object 730m away from Titu Island (Chinese name Chungye Dao / Philippine name Pagasa), a Chinese Coast Guard vessel blocked its path. The Chinese Coast Guard took the float on a trap and it disappeared, believed to be the remains of a rocket recently launched by China.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCA) ruled that China’s claim that the South China Sea was its territorial waters by drawing nine lines (nine dash lines) in a U shape “has no basis under international law.”