The Philippines is going into elections this May, and China is already horrified about the prospect of a China-hawk Filipino President. China never bothered about the Philippines’ concerns since the onset of President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency in 2016.
China sends a military grant to the Philippines
However, the Chinese poodle is stepping down this year, and the China-hawk Philippine military has already started calling the shots in the Southeast Asian nation. So, it has now resorted to flirting with the Philippine security establishment. China on Wednesday said that it is donating millions of dollars in military and construction equipment to the Philippine government.
A large part of the donation worth about 1 billion Philippine pesos will be for equipment to rebuild the southern city of Marawi, which got destroyed in 2017 during the five-month-long intense battle between the Philippine government and Islamic State forces. A Eurasian Review report mentioned that the first batch of military equipment had already arrived in the Philippines last month.
The donation came in the form of military equipment including drone systems, detectors, water purification vehicles, ambulances, firetrucks, x-ray machines, explosive-ordinance disposal robots, bomb disposal suits and transport vehicles. You see, China is showering its generosity upon Filipino voters right before the Presidential elections in a bid to subdue anti-China sentiments in the nation.
China attempts to placate the Philippine military
However, there is way more into it than what is meeting the eye. The Philippine military, in particular, has taken a tough stance on China’s hegemonic attitude over the last few months. So, China sending military grants to the Philippines can be perceived as its attempt to dampen the Philippine military’s anti-China pursuit.
China was unnerved at the news of the Philippines joining hands with Japan and India
Interestingly, the revelation about the Chinese military grant to the Philippines comes hot on the heels of Japan’s proposal of holding the first ministerial security talks with the Philippines later this month. The Philippines will be the ninth country with which Japan has held the so-called two-plus-two talks, which involve the countries’ foreign and defence ministers, and only the second Southeast Asian country following Indonesia to do so.
Clearly, with the waning influence of the Rodrigo administration over the Philippines, the country is tilting towards anti-China powers of the region. It recently hammered out a $375 million deal with India that will see the Philippine military equipped with India’s deadly BrahMos missiles.
The Philippine Marines intend to use the BrahMos as a shore-based anti-ship missile, and the South China Sea is one of the potential areas where the system could be deployed. So, China is naturally terrified about the prospect of the Philippines deploying these missiles near the region claimed by China.
Nations like India and Japan are trying to court the Philippines against China to impede the communist nation’s efforts of usurping the South China Sea. A Japanese government source even described the Philippines as a “strategic point for security” given its geographical location. The country is a part of the first island chain, which is a sea defence line, stretching from the Japanese archipelago through Taiwan and the Philippines.
China is today unnerved; as it has already sensed the change in the mood of the Philippine security establishment. The nation is no longer willing to prostrate before China’s intimidation and is openly partnering with China-hawk nations to stand up to China.