Home » Kamala Harris in the Philippines on the front of the rivalry with China – Pierre Haski

Kamala Harris in the Philippines on the front of the rivalry with China – Pierre Haski

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Kamala Harris in the Philippines on the front of the rivalry with China – Pierre Haski

November 23, 2022 10:15 am

US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to the Philippine island of Palawan in the South China Sea may not have the destabilizing potential of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last August, but it certainly didn’t go unnoticed.

Palawan is located in one of the most explosive areas on the planet, one of the points of friction between China and its Asian neighbors but also with the United States, omnipresent in the Asia-Pacific area. For this reason, Harris’ presence has a single theme: China.

Harris arrives in the Philippines at a time of great tension. Local authorities have just revealed an incident that occurred on Nov. 19, when a Philippine vessel found a piece of fuselage from a Chinese missile that had fallen overboard and was towing it back to its home port, as required by maritime law.

The law of the strongest
At that point, however, the ship was reached by the Chinese coast guard, who forcibly recovered the component while, according to jurists, Beijing could simply have asked for its return to Manila. The unprecedented incident occurred in a disputed area of ​​the South China Sea.

Today the United States presents itself as protector of the countries of Southeast Asia frightened by the possibility that the imposing neighbor China – 1.4 billion inhabitants, second largest economy in the world – could impose its law.

The Philippines are a school case because they are the only country to have denounced China before a specialized international tribunal, obtaining, among other things, the condemnation of Beijing. But the Chinese government has refused to recognize the sentence.

On November 21, in Palawan, Kamala Harris was very clear: “An attack against the Philippine armed forces in the South China Sea would activate the defense agreements [tra i due paesi]”. The United States will also strengthen its military presence in the Philippines, particularly in the island of Palawan.

The new Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Junior, son of the former dictator whose name and surname he bears, has adopted a harder line with China than his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.

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The US and Chinese, meanwhile, are trying to negotiate security mechanisms to dampen their rivalry. Joe Biden and Xi Jinping spoke about it on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali on November 15 and 16. The first consequence is the meeting between the two countries’ defense ministers earlier this week in Cambodia.

The countries of Southeast Asia are watching with concern the escalation of tensions and the rapid militarization of the area. No one is happy with the increasingly prevailing Cold War, also because everyone would like to maintain economic ties with China and at the same time they value the presence of the United States, the only possible counterweight to Beijing’s hegemonic temptation. The South China Sea is one of the many “fronts” of the Sino-US rivalry.

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(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)

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