Not just Taiwan – China lusting after Philippines as well!

 May 25, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Although China’s designs on world domination cause many people to focus on the communist superpower's lust for "re-unification" with Taiwan, it turns out the Philippines, just a few hundred miles due south of Taiwan, is also increasingly in China’s crosshairs.

Earlier this month, the Marcos-led government approved a massive $35 billion grant to the Philippine Navy as part of its Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization budget, as Philstar Global reported. According to the Philippine-based news outlet, the Southeast Asian country is committed to bolstering its military capabilities in the contested waters of the West Philippine Sea.

Col. Grant Newsham (USMC-Ret.), who once served as the first Marine liaison officer to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, confirmed to WND that while Taiwan gets most of the attention when considering a future conflict in East Asia, "it's worth remembering that the Philippines occupy an equally strategic position along the so-called First Island Chain."

Considering this, Newsham added, "Any Chinese assault on Taiwan would need to neutralize the northern Philippines – and particularly any American forces operating from there."

Given the multi-decade focus on internal threats, Newsham said, it made sense that the Philippine military received a huge increase in defense spending. "Philippine naval and air capabilities languished and many, if not most, observers believed the Philippines was by and large unable to defend itself from outside threats," he noted.

For the retired Marine Corps officer, "The significance of giving the Philippine Navy a bigger share of the defense budget is that it potentially improves the nation’s ability to defend its maritime territory that has been under constant threat from the Chinese for the last couple decades."

The Philippine Air Force is also being prioritized in future defense spending. According to Newsham, "That's further evidence of Manila's shifting their defense focus to look outwards." Traditionally, he told WND, Philippine defense focused on domestic threats posed by the communist New Peoples' Army guerrillas and the Islamic insurgent movements in the southern Philippines. However, he points out, "The Philippines are now showing other nations how one stands up to the People's Republic of China."

Equally important to strengthening its capabilities, Newsham pointed out that: "President Marcos has brought the Philippines closer to the United States and ramped up the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, signed in 2014, that allows U.S. forces to operate at nine locations in the Philippines." As a result, he tells WND, the U.S. has taken advantage of this and is regularly in-country, conducting useful exercises on and offshore with the Philippine military fully participating and benefitting.

Having once served as the Marines' liaison to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Newsham also points out that "the Japanese have gotten closer to the Philippines, providing patrol boats and aircraft, surveillance radars, and carrying out 'dual purpose' infrastructure projects in the country." The Japanese Navy and Air Force, and the nation's Ground Self-Defense Force, have also made appearances in the Philippines, as well as the Australian Defense Force.

"Far more allied activity is going on in the Philippines defense-wise now than at any time over the last 40 years," Newsham told WND, "and it’s all because of Chinese aggression."

"But," he warned, "don’t expect the Chinese to give up."

"By itself, even an upgraded Philippine defense won’t be able to ward off the Chinese," Newsham argues. "For this reason, the key variable is the degree to which the United States is willing to protect the Philippines."

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