Philippines Pivots: Marcos Jr. Dives Deeper into US Embrace, Leaving China Uneasy in the South China Sea

Philippines Pivots: Marcos Jr. Dives Deeper into US Embrace, Leaving China Uneasy in the South China Sea

In a dramatic shift, the Philippines under Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has abandoned Duterte's "balancing act" and openly embraced the United States, sending shockwaves across Southeast Asia and angering China. This bold move marks a major departure from the cautious neutrality favored by most regional players caught between the US and China's escalating rivalry.

South China Sea: The Philippines’ sea task force said its vessels were damaged after being 'directly targeted' on Sunday by a Chinese coast guard ship with a water cannon during a supply mission to Second Thomas Shoal. (Photo: AP)

Marcos Jr.'s Daring Steps:

  • Taiwan: Publicly backing Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a first for a Southeast Asian leader and even surpassing US official pronouncements, Marcos Jr. has incurred China's wrath and accusations of violating political commitments.
  • Defense Ties: He has fortified defense partnerships with the US and Japan, signaling a willingness to defy Beijing's assertive claims in the South China Sea, unlike other cautious Southeast Asian nations.
  • Courting New Investors: Recognizing the limitations of relying solely on China, Marcos Jr. is actively seeking investment from non-Chinese sources, positioning the Philippines as an attractive alternative for companies wary of China's tightening grip.

Also read:  Philippines and US Undertake Second Joint Maritime Patrol in West Philippine Sea

Reasons Behind the Shift

  • China's Growing Assertiveness: Marcos Jr. sees China's growing dominance in the South China Sea as a direct threat to the Philippines' territorial claims. He views Duterte's China-centric approach as ineffective, citing unfulfilled promises and economic challenges.
  • South China Sea Tensions: The persistent harassment of Philippine vessels and troops by China, coupled with Beijing's reluctance to engage in meaningful dialogue, has pushed Marcos Jr. to seek stronger security partners.
  • Reliance on US Support: Recognizing the Philippines' limited military capabilities compared to neighbors like Vietnam, Marcos Jr. believes robust US backing is crucial to deter potential conflicts.

Implications for Southeast Asia

Marcos Jr.'s bold stance throws a curveball into the region's delicate geopolitical balance. While some observers see it as a welcome counterweight to China's influence, others fear it could escalate tensions and destabilize the region.

Marcos Jr.'s dramatic pivot towards the US in the South China Sea dispute is a game-changer for Southeast Asia. Whether this marks a turning point in regional power dynamics or ignites further tensions remains to be seen. One thing is certain: the Philippines is no longer playing it safe, and the world is watching with bated breath.

Akhyari Hananto

I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to More understand it. My banking career continued in Yogyakarta when I joined in a program funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),as the coordinator for a program aimed to help improve the quality of learning and teaching process in private universities in Yogyakarta. When the earthquake stroke Yogyakarta, I chose to join an international NGO working in the area of ?disaster response and management, which allows me to help rebuild the city, as well as other disaster-stricken area in Indonesia. I went on to become the coordinator for emergency response in the Asia Pacific region. Then I was assigned for 1 year in Cambodia, as a country coordinator mostly to deliver developmental programs (water and sanitation, education, livelihood). In 2009, he continued his career as a protocol and HR officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, and two years later I joined the Political and Economic Section until now, where i have to deal with extensive range of people and government officials, as well as private and government institution troughout eastern Indonesia. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief in Good News From Indonesia (GNFI), a growing and influential social media movement, and was selected as one of The Most Influential Netizen 2011 by The Marketeers magazine. I also wrote a book on "Fundamentals of Disaster Management in 2007"?, "Good News From Indonesia : Beragam Prestasi Anak Bangsa di dunia"? which was luanched in August 2013, and "Indonesia Bersyukur"? which is launched in Sept 2013. In 2014, 3 books were released in which i was one of the writer; "Indonesia Pelangi Dunia"?, "Indonesia The Untold Stories"? and "Growing! Meretas Jalan Kejayaan" I give lectures to students in lectures nationwide, sharing on full range of issues, from economy, to diplomacy Less
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