Philippine VFA exit raises stakes in Pacific competition with China

Philippine plans to exit the Visiting Forces Agreement signed with the US in the 1990s won’t go into effect until August, but the move is already raising concerns about relations to the US. The potential end of that deal, and a diminished US military presence, comes at a time when the US and its partners in the region are seeking to counter China’s efforts to expand its influence. Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent decision to withdraw from the Visiting Forces Agreement comes after…

China a threat to Pacific stability

China is threatening the sovereignty of small Pacific Islands and undermining the region’s stability, a top US military commander said yesterday, in comments likely to inflame tensions with Beijing. US-China relations last month improved with the signing of a “phase one” trade deal that defused an 18-month row that has hit global growth, but strains remain. US Navy Admiral Philip Davidson — commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command — said in Sydney that the US “was all in” to counter China in the Pacific, citing Beijing’s “excessive territorial claims, debt-trap…

China Threatens Stability in the Pacific: U.S. Commander

SYDNEY — China is threatening the sovereignty of small Pacific Islands and undermining the region’s stability, a top U.S. military commander said on Thursday, in comments likely to inflame tension with China. U.S.-China relations improved in January with the signing of a trade deal that defused an 18-month row that has hit global growth but strains remain. Admiral Philip Davidson – commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command – said the United States “was all in” to counter China in the Pacific, citing its “excessive territorial claims, debt trap diplomacy, violations…

Navy warship steams near contested Spratly Island reefs militarized by China – Pacific

Navy warship steams near contested Spratly Island reefs militarized by China YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy on Saturday sent a warship steaming past two of the seven features China has militarized in the South China Sea to challenge restrictions imposed on innocent passage, according to the 7th Fleet. The USS Montgomery operated near Johnson and Fiery Cross reefs in the Spratly Islands, according to Navy photos from the advanced littoral combat ship. The mission marked the first South China Sea freedom-of-navigation operation reported in 2020. …

Duterte’s threat to end defense agreement could harm US efforts to deter China in South China Sea, experts say – Pacific

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest anti-American rant could do real damage to the longtime Pacific allies’ defense relationship, some security experts say. Duterte, who began his term in 2016 by insulting U.S. leaders and stating his intention to move closer to China and Russia, last week threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement that governs the deployment of U.S. troops to his country. The U.S. Embassy in Manila declined to comment on the issue Monday. But Jeffrey Ordaniel, assistant professor of international security studies at Tokyo…

As China pushes into Pacific, Japan unveils long game in the region

Japan, like Australia, has watched anxiously as China offers to lay an undersea communications cable to the strategically sensitive Solomon Islands, or to build critical roads within PNG. China is focused on the Pacific islands as it seeks to extend its domain of power outward from its own shores, as part of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to reshape global trade and influence in Beijing’s favour. Japanese soldiers watch a march-past by Papua New Guinea’s military band.Credit:Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs The People’s Republic has ploughed investment into…

Philippines retires former US minesweeper that earned five battle stars in the Korean War – Pacific

Philippines retires former US minesweeper that earned five battle stars in the Korean War The Philippine Navy has decommissioned a former U.S. minesweeper that was built during World War II and earned five battle stars in the Korean War. The corvette BRP Rizal was retired Wednesday by the Philippines as part of a move to save money on maintenance costs and to make way for new ships, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper. It is among several “aging vessels” that Philippine Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad said are…

The Army is fanning out across the Pacific to make friends and counter China

About 1,500 Schofield Barracks soldiers, 16 helicopters and hundreds of Humvees, heavy equipment and shipping containers are headed to Thailand for the first stop of Pacific Pathways 2020, an Army approach to bulking up in the region with a light but persistent footprint that follows the “places, not bases” mantra of the Pentagon. This year also will bring similar Pathways four- to five-month troop deployments (but not from Hawaii) to the Philippines and, in a first, an Oceania rotation to locations including Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, Palau…

Duterte’s threat to end defense agreement could harm US-Philippines alliance, experts say – Pacific

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest anti-American rant could do real damage to the longtime Pacific allies’ defense relationship, some security experts say. Duterte, who began his term in 2016 by insulting U.S. leaders and stating his intention to move closer to China and Russia, last week threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement that governs the deployment of U.S. troops to his country. The U.S. Embassy in Manila declined to comment on the issue Monday. But Jeffrey Ordaniel, assistant professor of international security studies at Tokyo…