Inevitable for China to look at PH-US military cooperation 'provocatively' - expert


Posted at Apr 12 2023 03:21 PM

Philippine Exercise Director Major Gen. Marvin L Licudine and US Exercise Director Representative Major General Eric Austin of the US Marine Corps pose for photos during the opening ceremonies of the RP-US Balikatan Exercises at the Tejeros Hall, AFP Commissioned Officers Club, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on April 11, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The expansion of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and US will be seen by China as a provocation, an expert said Wednesday.

But geopolitical analyst Don Mclain Gill added that should not stop Manila from strengthening its alliance with traditional partner Washington.

"It is thus inevitable for China to look at it provocatively given of course the involvement of the US and the intensifying US-China power competition," he told ANC's "Headstart".

"We have to do this quite carefully of course because at a time now when the geopolitical situation is quite tumultuous, wrong signals can be seen as a provocation.

"So, we have to make sure to be as open as proactive as possible and not to fall deeper in the US-China power competition while securing our own interest," he added.

As for the security situation in Taiwan, Gil said it would have a direct impact on the Philippines should tensions escalate.

"The expansion of EDCA must also be understood in this light, while it is a significant component of Philippine deterrence, it also provides the US support for its interest in the case of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan," he said.

"With or without the extension, the security of Taiwan for example is undeniably linked to ours... We'll be involved not only because of the alliance but because of the proximity."

The Philippines and US on Tuesday also launched its largest-ever joint military drill in the face of China's growing assertiveness in the region.

About 12,200 American, 5,400 Filipino and just over 100 Australian soldiers will participate in the 2 weeks of Balikatan exercises, or "shoulder to shoulder" in Filipino, which for the first time will include a live-fire drill in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely.

The drills follow Monday's conclusion of a 3-day Chinese military exercise that simulated targeted strikes and a blockade of self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.

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— With a report from Agence France-Presse