Recent diplomatic events highlight the fundamental underlying tension between the Philippines’ desire to ally with China and its desire to regain control of its territory. The Philippine foreign minister said on Dec. 16 that the Philippines had no intention of protesting Chinese moves to install new anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on some islands in the disputed region. Exactly one month later, the same foreign minister revealed that the Philippines had indeed filed a diplomatic protest in the form of a note verbale over China’s moves in the South China Sea. Last week, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe traveled to the Philippines to present Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte with a new aid package and, per the Japanese Foreign Ministry, secured an assurance from Duterte that Philippine cooperation with the U.S. would continue. To get more in-depth coverage of this developing dynamic in the Pacific, check out our recent Deep Dive on Duterte and the Philippines.