Philippines Supports Australia Nuclear Sub Pact To Counter China
The Philippines is backing a new defence partnership between the United States, Britain and Australia, hoping it can maintain the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region, a view that contrasts sharply with some of its neighbours.
The enhancement of a near-abroad ally’s ability to project power should restore and keep the balance rather than destabilise it, Philippines foreign minister, Teodoro Locsin, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mr. Locsin said that without an actual presence of nuclear weapons, the AUKUS move would not violate a 1995 treaty to keep nuclear arms out of Southeast Asia.
The South China Sea continues to be a source of tension, with the United States – a defence treaty partner of the Philippines – and Western allies regularly conducting “freedom of navigation” operations that China has reacted angrily to.
China sees those as outside interference in waters it claims as its own, in conflict with other coastal states, like the Philippines and Vietnam, which have accused China of harassing fishermen and energy activities.
Proximity breeds brevity in response time; thereby enhancing an ASEAN near friend and ally’s military capacity to respond to a threat to the region or challenge the status quo, Mr. Locsin added, without specifying the threat.
It requires enhancing Australia’s ability, added to that of its main military ally, to achieve that calibration, he stressed.
Minister Locsin’s remarks, dated Sept. 19, differ to the stance of Indonesia and Malaysia, which sounded the alarm about the nuclear power submarines amid a burgeoning superpower rivalry in Southeast Asia.