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World Risk of U.S.-China 'Shooting War' Is Growing, Philippine Defense Secretary Warns

12:55  25 november  2020
12:55  25 november  2020 Source:   newsweek.com

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The Philippines fears the it could be dragged into a shooting war between the US and China in the contested South China Sea. The Philippine defense chief suggested, as his country has before, that the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty needs to be reexamined and in many places clarified.

Secretary Pompeo was clearly referencing key terms of the 68-year old U . S .- Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty. Specifically, he clarified that the It has served as the cornerstone of U . S .- Philippine relations since 1951, facilitating a U . S . military presence in the Philippines throughout the Cold War

The Philippines' defense secretary has warned that increasing tensions in the South China Sea between the United States and China could easily spill over into hostilities.

Delfin Lorenzana sitting at a table with wine glasses: Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on April 1, 2019. He has said that China poses a threat to Manila's interests in the South China Sea. © MANDEL NGAN//Getty Images Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at the Pentagon in Washington, DC on April 1, 2019. He has said that China poses a threat to Manila's interests in the South China Sea.

Delfin Lorenzana told a forum in Manila on Wednesday that the rivalry between Beijing and Washington was the overriding security concern of the region and his country would bear the brunt of any escalation.

"If ever a shooting war happens, Philippines—which is right smack in the middle of the conflict—will be involved whether she likes it or not," he told the Stratbase ADR Institute, according to The Inquirer.

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Speaking Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines -US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) was ambiguous and vague and risked causing "confusion and chaos during a crisis." "The Philippines is not in a conflict with anyone and will not be at war with anyone in the future.

Chinese manufactured goods keep consumer prices low for overstretched American households, and provide cheap inputs and capital equipment for U . S . companies. So far, despite heightened tensions in the South China Sea and several other flashpoints, the two great powers haven't come to blows.

"This is the crux of the security challenge in the Indo-Pacific region, the looming confrontation of the U.S. and its allies and China for the South China Sea," he said.

In 2018, a Chinese destroyer came close to an American warship that was conducting a "freedom of navigation" patrol in the South China Sea. China has increased its armed coastguard and patrols in the region. Last week, the U.S. flew two supersonic heavy bombers into China's air defense identification zone northeast of Taiwan.

"The fear of miscalculation is ever present, like the near collision of two frigates belonging to the U.S. and China two years ago," Lorenzana said.

Despite claims from Manila, as well as regional neighbors Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, China has continued to enforce its claim over the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

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In real life, China and The Philippines both claim the shoal as part of their territory, and tensions between the two nations have been growing . Two ships of the Philippine navy, the patrol craft BRP Emilio Jacinto and BRP Artemio Ricarde, have arrived. The potential for a shooting war is very high.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned against the risk of a second wave of infections in the country as the global pandemic continues to spread, state-run "New difficulties and challenges have emerged for China ' s work resumption and economic and social development," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

The Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has largely managed to avoid challenging Beijing over its maneuvers in the region, in return for Chinese investment, but he faces criticism domestically because the promised financial benefits have not materialized.

Camille Elemia, a journalist with the Philippine website Rappler, told Newsweek earlier this month that President Donald Trump's trade spats with Beijing had placed the Philippines in a difficult situation because it did not want to anger China, "but we also need the U.S. to retain the balance of power in the region and what China is doing in the South China Sea."

However, with a new U.S. administration coming to power in January, Duterte will have to consider how to balance American interests in the region. In June, he reversed a decision he had made in February, to scrap the two-decades-old Visiting Forces Agreement setting out rules for U.S. soldiers operating in his country.

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The United States and India have reaffirmed their defensive and security relationship, as Washington continues to rally allies in Asia amid concerns over increased Chinese military activity in the region.

China Warns U . S . Politicians Pushing Nations Into ‘New Cold War ’. Wang cautioned the U . S . “not to challenge China ’ s red line” on Taiwan, after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo broke with tradition last week and congratulated the island’ s President Tsai Ing-wen on her second-term inauguration.

On Wednesday, Lorenzana said he hoped the southeast Asian nations could act as one to assert their influence on China whose moves in the South China Sea were of concern internationally.

"What does this tell us? That the South China Sea is important in nations," he said, "that the tension in the South China Sea will continue to rise as China will continue to accuse the U.S. and other nations of provocation and other destabilization in the region."

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