Unwanted Entanglement: The Philippines’ Spratly Policy as a Case Study in Conflict Enhancement?

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Austin, Greg (2003) Unwanted Entanglement: The Philippines’ Spratly Policy as a Case Study in Conflict Enhancement? , Security Dialogue 34(1): .

The Philippines used a number of incidents involving China around Mischief Reef between February and May 1995 as a lever to stimulate their political and military relationship with the USA following the closure of the US bases in the Philippines in 1992. However, the success enjoyed by the Philippines was not due to the underlying logic of US–Philippines relations narrowly defined. Rather, the main factor was China’s resort to military pressure against Taiwan in July and August 1995, and again in March 1996. For the first time, the USA used its ally’s presence in the disputed Spratly islands as a lever of its own for winning back Philippine support for renewed US military access as part of the USA’s strategy for regional power projection against China. The Philippines had played for a security guarantee from the USA in respect of the Spratly islands, but found the price of alliance was mutual commitment, especially with regard to a possible Taiwan contingency.

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