How can China, which makes no secret of its ambition to become a “maritime power,” be stopped from its moves to strengthen its control of South China Sea in disregard of international law? Along with the North Korea crisis, this is an ongoing issue for peace in Japan and the world.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is currently visiting Japan. He discussed China’s establishment of a military foothold in the South China Sea with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
This visit came right after the start of the second Xi Jinping regime, which calls this lawless military buildup an “achievement.”
While details of the Abe-Duterte discussion on the South China Sea have not been disclosed, the fact that the leaders of Japan and the Philippines held a meeting will constitute pressure on China.
President Donald Trump will be visiting Japan from Nov. 5. We hope that this will deepen the Japan-U.S., Japan-Philippine, and U.S.-Philippine relationships in order to confront China.
The Trump administration is being tested not only on how it deals with the North Korea issue but also on the U.S.’s engagement with the Asia-Pacific region.
Trump will visit the ROK and China after Japan, which will be followed by the APEC Summit in Vietnam and the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in the Philippines. The leaders of Japan and the U.S. will also be meeting again.
The Trump administration’s posture on the South China Sea will be a litmus test of how serious it is about containing China’s hegemonism.
Prime Minister Abe should cooperate with Trump to make these diplomatic forums an opportunity to apply the brakes on China’s audacious maritime advances.
Duterte will preside over the finale of this series of summit diplomacy. The leaders of two allies, the U.S. and the Philippines, will also hold a summit meeting.
The Philippines is a party to the case filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration that ended in a total defeat for China. However, Duterte has “refrained” from talking about the court decision in the face of China’s pressure and economic aid.
Will the concerned nations be able to speak with one voice on “freedom of navigation“ in the South China Sea? Duterte will probably be seen as the key person in the upcoming string of diplomatic events.
Japan and the U.S. must make greater efforts to persuade the Philippines to stand firmly on the side that upholds the rule of law in the South China Sea issue.
Improving the Philippines’ maritime policing capability will enhance its confidence in facing up to China. Japan needs to step up its concrete aid measures, such as the provision of patrol boats.