China’s Foreign Minister Visits Philippines Amid Joint Military Drills with US
China’s top diplomat recently visited Manila as the Philippines carried out joint military drills with the United States. The meeting between the two neighbors, who have a history of deep economic ties and long-running territorial disputes, aimed to resolve their differences and strike a balance in their relations with the two superpowers.
The visit was part of a series of high-level meetings between the Philippines, China, and the United States, all vying for the upper hand in the Asia-Pacific region. The Philippines’ delicate balancing act between these two superpowers is crucial to its foreign policy and regional stability.
China’s Foreign Minister Visits Manila
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Manila on January 16, 2021, for a two-day visit. His visit came as the Philippines conducted joint military exercises with the United States in the South China Sea, a disputed area claimed by China.
During his visit, Wang met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., and other officials to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues. They pledged to work together to resolve their differences and enhance cooperation in various fields.
The Philippines and China have had a complicated relationship due to their competing territorial claims in the South China Sea. In 2016, an international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s claims to most of the disputed waters. However, China rejected the ruling and continued to assert its claims.
In recent years, the Philippines has sought to improve its relations with China, particularly in trade and investment. However, it has also maintained its alliance with the United States, its longtime security partner.
Joint Military Drills with US
The joint military exercises between the Philippines and the United States took place from January 15 to 25, 2021, in the South China Sea. The drills involved more than 700 American and Filipino troops and focused on maritime security, amphibious operations, and humanitarian assistance.
The joint exercises came amid rising tensions between the United States and China over the South China Sea. The US has been conducting freedom of navigation operations in the disputed waters to challenge China’s claims, while China has been building military installations on artificial islands in the area.
The Philippines, which has overlapping territorial claims with China in the South China Sea, has sought to balance its relations with the two superpowers. It has welcomed US military assistance in countering China’s assertiveness in the region but also sought to engage with China in economic and diplomatic cooperation.
The Philippines’ delicate balancing act between the United States and China is crucial to its foreign policy and regional stability. As a small country caught between two superpowers, it needs to navigate its relations carefully to avoid being dragged into their power struggle.
On the one hand, the Philippines relies on the United States for security and defense, as well as economic and diplomatic support. The two countries have a long-standing alliance dating back to the 1950s, and the US remains the Philippines’ largest trading partner and source of foreign investment.
On the other hand, the Philippines also sees China as an important economic partner and a major source of investment and trade. China has become the Philippines’ largest trading partner in recent years, and Duterte has sought to improve ties with Beijing since he took office in 2016.
However, the Philippines’ warming ties with China have raised concerns among some Filipinos and their allies, who fear that it could compromise their sovereignty and territorial integrity. They worry that China’s growing influence in the region could undermine their security and economic interests.
The Philippines’ balancing act between the United States and China is a delicate dance that requires skillful diplomacy and strategic thinking. As a small country caught between two superpowers, it needs to navigate its relations carefully to avoid being dragged into their power struggle.
The joint military exercises with the United States and the visit of China’s foreign minister to Manila show the Philippines’ efforts to maintain its alliance with the US while engaging with China in economic and diplomatic cooperation. However, it remains to be seen whether the Philippines can strike a balance between these two superpowers and protect its interests in the Asia-Pacific region.