Changes may be coming to relations between the United States and one of its closest allies in the Asia Pacific. It’s the latest twist involving the president of the Philippines. And this development concerns the military. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
What to make of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte? It’s a question on the minds of US policymakers…given his continuing commentary on relations between the two countries.
This week, Duterte suggested US Special Forces in the southern Philippines should leave the country, because they might become targets for extremists in Mindanao. A little more than a hundred US soldiers are there—training local police and military on intelligence gathering and counterterrorism. Tuesday, Duterte said the Philippine Navy would stop patrolling the South China Sea with the U.S. Navy…a practice that started about five months ago. Tuesday night in the Philippines, Duterte said he was not anti-American…and has no intention of cutting what he called “our umbilical cord” with allies.
The Philippines is one of a handful of Asia Pacific countries bound to the US by a treaty relationship….which considers an attack on either country as an attack on the other. The US also has treaties with Japan, South Korea, Australia and Thailand. In another departure from current practice, Duterte says he’s considering buying weapons from China and Russia.
Meanwhile, in the waters of the South China Sea this week, joint military exercises continue…involving naval and marine forces of China, and Russia.