The Philippines is surrounded by US and Chinese warships

From east to west Philippines, one can find US and Chinese warships. Both are saber-rattling. Tensions and threats of war breaking out are heightening. There is rising danger of the Philippines getting caught in the armed conflict of two imperialist powers.

In the West Philippine Sea, Chinese Coast Guard and “militia” ships are permanently stationed. There are also at least seven Chinese military bases and facilities in the area, several of which were constructed within the country’s territory.

On the Philippine Sea (on the country’s east), two US carrier strike groups (armadas with lead aircraft carriers) and submarines operate. Not far from the country’s seas is another US aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz.

From April to May, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, US and Chinese military forces maneuvered and countermaneuvered in the South China Sea. In mid-April, China deployed the Haiyang Dizhi 8 survey ship for searching sea and mineral resources, escorted by a flotilla of coast guard and militia ships.

Tensions rose on April 28-29 when the US deployed the USS Gabrielle Giffords, a combat littoral ship, to “patrol” the area. Tensions further rose when on April 29 two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber plane were launched from continental US and flew towards the South China Sea.

In early May, the US dispatched the USS Montgomery and USNS Cesar Chavez to conduct patrol operations. On May 8, two more US bombers launched from Guam flew over the South China Sea. Around the same time, the Japan-based US Seventh Fleet bragged that three submarines under its command are conducting war exercises in the Philippine seas.

On the first week of June, the US military claimed it has three carrier strike groups conducting operations across the Indian Ocean and Pacific. Two of these strike groups, the USS Theodore Roosevelt strike group, and the USS Ronald Reagan (from its Japanese port), both nuclear-powered warships and carrying a combined force of more than 10,000 troops, are presently operating in the Philippine Sea.

The manuevers and countermaneuvers of US and Chinese military forces within and around Philippine territories must be denounced. All these heighten tensions and raise the danger of confrontations and igniting direct armed conflict in the region.

The Duterte regime must be denounced for following the dictates of both US and China in the military, political and economic terms. On the one hand, it has failed to assert the country’s territorial and economic rights as recognized by the 2017 decision of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas, when it allowed China to construct military facilities in areas under Philippine jurisdiction. On the other hand, it continues to allow the US to use the country as launching pad for its operations in the South China Sea, the Philippine Sea and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. It has also allowed the US to set up facilities within AFP camps, in exchange for helicopters and other war matériel for its war of suppression against the Filipino people.

The people must demand the dismantling of Chinese military facilities in the country’s territory and reparation for damaged marine resources. They must also demand the withdrawal of armed Chinese Coast Guard and paramilitary ships.

At the same time, the people must call for the complete abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and all other lopsided treaties which give US military forces extraterritorial rights.