GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON #254 17 JUNE 2021
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) governs the deployment of US soldiers in the Philippines but relations between President Duterte + President Biden are not good + US think tanks warn of big damage to US strategy in countering China’s military power in the Asia-Pacific if the VFA is not renewed. It is about geography.
The Philippines consists of 7,600 islands fencing off the S China Sea from the Western Pacific + the US needs access if it wants to maintain a serious military presence. Washington is worried. Gregory Poling of the Center for Strategic + International Studies says the US alliance with the Philippines “is knee-capped” if the US/Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement, governing deployment of US soldiers in the Philippines, expires.
The US has naval cooperation with Singapore which is “tiny” + with Vietnam who, understandably, will not allow US marines on its land. As Poling says “China dominates the S China Sea in every domain…lose the Philippines + you lose the S China Sea.”. The Presidential Election takes place in Manila in 2022. The US has a big interest in its outcome. Watch this space.