Experts air concern on Ph security in Taiwan-China tension

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 9 Aug) – Defense and political experts here expressed deep concern about the escalating tension in the Taiwan Strait as China continues with its live-fire military exercises that were supposed to end on Sunday, August 7.

Taiwan. Map courtesy of Google

The experts suggested that any position to be taken on the issue by the country’s new leadership must be with keen diplomacy, considering the fact that the Philippines has a defense treaty with the United States, which may drag and involve the country into the conflict.

Dr. Jovanie Camacho Espesor, political analyst at the Mindanao State University in this city, said on Monday that the country’s new leadership need to be cautious and strategic in dealing with the issue and must take into account the welfare of the thousands of Filipinos working and residing in China and Taiwan.

He pointed out that the recent visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan is seen by China as a violation of its sovereignty because it considers Taiwan part of its territory.

The Pelosi Taiwan visit has infuriated China, which immediately launched intensified live-fire military drills that raised fears of an armed confrontation which may drag neighboring countries, like the Philippines.

The Marcos administration, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), has repeatedly announced that the Philippines remains committed to the One China policy and urges restraint by all parties concerned.

A former Armed Forces chief, retired General Alexander Yano, said he is of the belief that the Philippine government is ready for any contingency in the event an armed conflict breaks out in Taiwan.

The safety of more than a hundred thousand Filipinos there is of course the primary concern and measures for their repatriation must be in place, should it be necessary, Yano said.

He said talks about Philippine involvement should there be armed conflict in Taiwan “should, in my view, be managed.”

Yano said the country’s defense pact is with the United States and that “an armed attack on the US, including on its military personnel and assets, in the Pacific will of course trigger Philippine obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Yano, however, pointed out that the treaty should not be understood as obligating the Philippines to be involved in every conflict entered by the US.

The Philippines must be more vigilant and circumspect, given that it has a treaty-alliance with the US, said Austin Ong, geopolitical analyst of think-tank Integrated Development Studies Institute (IDSI).

An escalation of the tension in Taiwan can also lead to a domino effect that may drag neighboring countries into the conflict, Ong said.

Ong said Pelosi’s Taiwan visit is a clear provocation and risks creating greater instability in the US and China relations.

The provocation has already forced China to respond with expanded military drills around Taiwan and banned several Taiwan products.

Yano said he is of the belief that the two countries, the US and China, will be responsible as they pursue their strategic goals in relation to Taiwan.

The US in any event advised that it adheres to the one-China policy and does not want to see a crisis in Taiwan. “I am hopeful the two countries will not permit that recent events lead to a crisis or worse, an armed conflict in Taiwan,” Yano said.

Lawyer Ira Paulo Pozon, founder of management advisory firm Caucus, Inc., said it must be remembered that the US has applied the One China Policy since the 1970s and its relations with Taiwan are governed by law, specifically the Taiwan Relations Act.

Pozon said the visit has undoubtedly caused increased tensions and an escalation of military and economic posturing from both the US and mainland China. 

“Diplomacy and dialogue must prevail,” Ong said. (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)