US-China rivalry in the South China Sea has the Philippines at its core, observers say

US-China rivalry in the South China Sea has the Philippines at its core, observers say

  • Beijing and Washington know the value of Manila’s and its mercurial leader Rodrigo Duterte’s support, and they are willing to pay handsomely to get it
  • Despite the Philippines pivoting closer to China in recent years, its ties with long-standing ally America on security issues remain ‘resilient’, says analyst Richard Heydarian

The United States and China have stepped up their efforts to win the affections of the Philippines of late as the two powers remain locked in a fight for supremacy on multiple fronts, not least the South China Sea.

On Friday, the agriculture ministry in Manila announced that a US-funded animal disease laboratory had opened in the Central Luzon region, The Manila Bulletin reported.

Earlier in the week, Sung Kim, the US ambassador to the Philippines, said he had handed over 5,000 hygiene kits and 16 handwashing stations to the mayor of Manila to aid local efforts to combat Covid-19. That donation came after the US last month provided the Southeast Asian nation with 100 new ventilators.