The South China Sea region is seeing a shift in relations as the Philippines has reportedly reached out to superpower Russia despite being a long-standing ally of the United States. While the United States and Russia remain at odds with each other, there are now concerns whether the Philippines will betray its biggest ally under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte or is the country trying to be smart about the dispute.
According to reports, the Philippines has sought out the help of Russia to strengthen military capability amidst the growing tensions in the South China Sea region. Philippine defense officials previously talked with Russian Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) to look into the possibilities of a military cooperation to boost the country’s military capability and defense training.
Philippines Betrays US and Reaches Out to Russia?
“One of the most pressing challenges in the region is keeping a stable, predictable and peaceful maritime order, particularly in the South China Sea,” Inquirer quoted Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. during his speech at the 40th anniversary of Philippines Russia bilateral relations.
Yasay added that the Philippines sees the role of the South China “as one of the main arteries of global trade, to the continued favorable economic outlook of the Asia Pacific region.”
“Therefore, we all have a legitimate stake in maintaining peace and security in the region through peaceful means and the rule of international law,” added Yasay.
Nonetheless, New York Times claims that China’s plans of further building infrastructure in the region may be postponed thanks to the growing friendship between China and the Philippines. Duterte’s administration appears to be more willing to talk things out than his predecessor. Transforming the Scarborough Shoal under Duterte’s nose would be ruining things, according to the analysts.
“It would be irrational to build it into a fortress now,” said Zhang Baohui, a professor of international relations at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.
“The government would like the Philippines to at least remain neutral in the rivalry between the United States and China. Now at least they have a chance.”