Orchestrated Conflicts In The South China Sea

Through its board members and executives, Rosario’s ADR is joined with its parent, Stratbase, an “advisory and research consultancy," as BGA's Philippine partner. Due to the interlocking leaderships, Stratbase head Victor Manhit serves as ADR’s president, while heading BGA's Philippine branch. 

From joint patrols in 2015 to the Reef debacle

It was during Rosario’s government years that Philippines filed the arbitration case against China. It was followed by the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which opened the country to US military, ships, and planes; for the first time since 1991. 

In May 2015, the CSIS/AMTI launched a 3-year U.S.-Philippines Strategic Initiative in Washington, with del Rosario, and ex-Defense Secretary William Cohen. Thhe expectation was that Senator Hillary Clinton would be the next US president. In the fall, Rosario met Obama’s then-deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken in Manila. 

In 2016 President Duterte’s electoral triumph caused a four-year pause in these plans. Now the goal seems to be to relaunch them to preempt Duterte’s possible termination of the US-PH Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), before it’s too late.

So, when Antony Blinken was appointed US State Secretary in January, del Rosario welcomed the appointment adding that in early 2016, "I engaged [Blinken] in DC to decide to undertake joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea.” 

On April 1, del Rosario called on the Duterte administration to reconsider holding joint patrols with the US to deal with “China’s continuing unilateral aggression.” 

Last Friday, in a call with Philippine Foreign Secretary Locsin, Blinken expressed concerns about “the massing of Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef” saying that the US-Philippine mutual defense treaty applied to the South China Sea. 

Concurrently, US carrier strike group, amphibious warships were massed in contested South China Sea waters, while Beijing urged the US to show restraint and cease efforts to “sow discord” in the region. 

Everything old is new again.

Friction and rearmament, or peace and development

In Southeast Asia, the explicit Trump-Pompeo-Blinken objective is to rally regional countries into an anti-China front.  

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Dr. Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognized strategist of the multipolar world and the founder of Difference Group. He has served at the India, China and ...

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