Recent statements by Philippine’s foreign minister in support of a rearmed Japan highlight Southeast Asia’s unease over China’s increasingly aggressive efforts to grab disputed territory. More interestingly, the statements suggest that the Philippines is hoping to form a unified front, comprised of well-armed allies, to counter Chinese imperialism.
It appears that multilateral action and the formation of a bloc of aligned nations bent on thwarting Chinese territorial claims will be the preferred means of addressing ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The pronouncements by Philippine officials will no doubt ruffle feathers in Beijing. The statements are also likely to boost support for hardliners in Tokyo who support a more robust Japanese military presence and suggest that the historical scars of the Japanese occupation during World War II are fading.
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