Daily Memo: Making Moves in the South China Sea

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will not allow the U.S. to set up military bases in his country.

South China Sea moves. During his annual state of the union address on Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ruled out allowing the U.S. to set up military bases in the country, arguing that China is “in possession of” the disputed waters and that allowing U.S. base access would lead to nuclear war on Philippine soil. This leaves the fate of the landmark 2014 basing agreement with the U.S., implementation of which has stalled under Duterte, further in doubt. (Possibly related: He also said that he had pleaded with Chinese President Xi Jinping to think of the Philippines first if and when it developed a COVID-19 vaccine.) Other littoral states, apparently, disagree with Duterte on the question of whether might makes right in the South China Sea. Vietnam, for example, is mulling following the course set by Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino, and initiating international legal action against Chinese claims. Indonesia, meanwhile, has been ramping up maritime drills around the Natuna Islands. Perhaps most notably, Australia and the U.S. are expected to hold talks Wednesday on ramping up joint drills in the South China Sea. Eastern European cooperation. Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania announced on Tuesday the creation of the Lublin Triangle, a grouping […]

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