Lines have been drawn

We’ll see what further aggravations our fishermen and coast guard will suffer in the months to come following China’s admonition for us not to be ‘scammed’ by America.

“If you’re not with us, then you’re against us.”

Manila may soon get this sort of message from Beijing in view of what the latter sees as America actively rallying global forces and traditional allies to parrot its anti-China rhetoric and push whatever agenda the present tenant of the White House has.

This as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., after six years of his predecessor hemming and hawing on the Philippines’ geopolitical stance, made it very clear which side of the fence the Philippines is on in the event of the s_ _ t hitting the fan.

During the visit of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III to Manila Thursday, the Philippines agreed to give the US access to four more local bases and to allow American forces to join its patrols in the West Philippine Sea.

Now, if you can’t see the WPS as a potential flashpoint for a global war with Philippine and American forces eyeballing their Chinese counterparts there, then have your eyes or thought processes checked.

It would be a scenario far more dangerous than China and the Philippines trying to play a game of chicken — of whose coast guard or navy would have its ship change course at the very last possible moment to avert a collision with the other party.

As far as Beijing is concerned, there’s no WPS — only the South China Sea straddling its Asian neighbors like the Philippines. What’s in a name? A lot, albeit in a way that oversimplifies things.

Call the body of water the South China Sea and you play into China’s territorial claim, and call parts of the same the West Philippine Sea and you bolster Filipinos’ ownership assertion.

No doubt, China would continue to patrol what it thinks it owns, and the Philippines would do the same, but with Uncle Sam in tow this time around.

“I have always said that the future of the Philippines and, for that matter, the Asia-Pacific will always have to involve the United States,” Mr. Marcos told Austin, laying bare the country’s pivot back into America’s arms.

“We stand ready to help you in any way we can,” Austin in turn assured Marcos while pledging to his Filipino counterpart, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez, America’s help in modernizing the Philippine military.

But of course! Geopolitics has always involved a quid pro quo in whatever guise or cover story it may come cloaked in, like that “climate change” spiel we got bombed with days back.

Here, we have to say that Austin, since becoming the first African-American to serve as US Defense chief in 2021, has been the man with the money bags to get things done, the speartip of America’s projection of military power.

Late last year, he fleshed out US President Joe Biden’s first categorical statement that America would defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion by making sure Australia’s Tindal airbase can host mammoth B-52 bombers.

In service since the 1950s, B-52s are equipped to deliver nuclear payloads and, coming from northern Australia, will have the range to fly into China’s neck of the woods.

Then, there’s the US offer to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines that could linger longer underneath in between port calls, their locations and weaponry being anybody’s guess.

Australia has since earned condemnation from the usual talking heads of Beijing, with one particularly hawkish personality saying Aussies would pay dearly for serving as Uncle Sam’s “pawns.”

The Philippines? We’ll see what further aggravations our fishermen and coast guard will suffer in the months to come following China’s admonition for us not to be “scammed” by America into serving its interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

We’ll also see soon enough how America putting itself into the WPS equation could shift the balance of power in the waters disputed not only by China and the Philippines but also by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

“This is part of our effort to modernize our alliance,” Austin said of his Manila trip. “And these efforts are especially important as the People’s Republic of China continues to advance its illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea.”

These are interesting and dangerous times we find ourselves in.

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