Missiles in PH backyard: A wake-up call to revisit foreign policy — think tank
The reported presence of anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air missile systems in China’s artificial bases in the Spratlys in the South China Sea should serve as a “wake up call” for the Philippine government to revisit its foreign policy.
In a statement, Dindo Manhit, president of independent think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi), said that it is high time for the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte “to explore other ways of dealing with the increasingly volatile situation” amid the latest developments of China’s militarization in the disputed waters.
US news network CNBC reported that the missiles were installed on three of its biggest outposts in the Spratlys — Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi — in recent weeks.
Mischief Reef is inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. The UN Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 that the Philippines has sovereign rights over it.
Prelude to combat aircraft in China’s bases
In a position paper, Rear Admiral Rommel Jude Ong, Naval Inspector General of the Philippine Navy said China would soon send its combat aircraft in the Spratlys bases following the reported deployment of missiles.
“A few days ago we were surprised with the reports that the Chinese have embedded nuclear and anti-ship missiles to three critical island features — Subi, Fiery Cross, Mischief,” Ong said at a maritime symposium in Manila where he also presented his study.
“I propound that the logical next step would be the deployment of J-11 maritime strike aircraft. It has a range of 1,500 kilometers. Looking at the map, it can go over the entire Philippine archipelago including critical vulnerabilities in Luzon, as well as Palawan,” he added.
Vietnam has protested the presence of missiles and demanded China to remove them. The Philippines, meanwhile, the report is still being verified despite China’s confirmation of the presence of the missiles.
President Rodrigo Duterte refused to contest China and argues that he cannot risk the lives of Filipino troops in an armed confrontation between superpowers.
Manhit said the President’s decision to not “side with any parties” to avoid being caught in the crossfire between powerful countries is not the only option.
“The most common rationale cited— we are militarily not in a good position to wage war against Beijing—should not be license to kowtow to China’s every whim. After all, the threat of the use of force constitutes a violation of the United Nations Charter,” he said.
“The pivot to Beijing away from the country’s more traditional allies needs to be revisited while exhausting all available mechanisms for unilateral, if not global, cooperation,” he added.
Manhit said the militarization of China in the South China Sea continued unchallenged when the Philippines refused to take up its favorable victory against China’s nine-dash-line claims in the arbitration court.
He stressed that letting militarization continue or risk going to war are not the only options. In the foreign policy aspect, it’s important to “approach the situation from a position of power, not weakness.” /muf
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