China vs Philippines

Statistical numbers are clear – the Filipinos are outnumbered! The Philippine Navy force is no match against the powerful Chinese Naval force. Well, that is expected. China is now becoming one of the most influential and powerful countries in the world. It is just right for the country to modernize its naval forces to defend its seas and coasts. According to one article I’ve read, China operates the largest submarine force in Asia.


The modernisation of the PLAN over the past decade has been driven by two factors, the possibility of a military conflict with Taiwan over the island’s declaration of independence, and more recently, the growing needs to protect China’s sea lines of communications (SLOC) in order to secure the country’s global network of energy resources and trading activities.

…”secure the country’s global network of energy resources…” The phrase sounds to include the recent dispute on the West Philippine Sea (according to the Filipinos) or South China Sea (according to the Chinese). China and the Philippines, plus four other nations — Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam — are all claiming to own the Spratlys. The group of islands (more than 30,000 islands and reefs) is said to be abundant in natural gas reserves, which of course means fuel and megawatts of power to the country that could monopolize the activities in the area.

Currently, the Philippines is occupying seven islands and three reefs. China has eight reefs. If you ask the Philippine government, the Spratly Islands are part of the Philippine territory as they are “obviously” closest to Palawan province. In fact, they are included in the municipality of Kalayaan.

Who can blame the Chinese government in claiming the Spratly Islands as part of its Paracels’ Authority? With the commercial value of the islands, any country surrounding them would want to have a piece of the pie. China claims that the islands are part of its territorial waters, therefore putting the disputed group under “China’s blue territories” of the Hainan Province.

In recent news, the tension in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China is mounting. With China erecting structures on the islands and intruding Philippine territories, the Chinese is clear of its mission – get rid of all claimants, especially the assertive Philippines. The Kalayaan group of islands is within the Philippine 200-mile zone, and yet here is China (which is about 600 miles away) aggressively claiming it.

One thing is certain, China will never back out. Its powerful Navy is the reason they claim the Spratlys. Look where the Philippines is in terms of Navy strength in comparison to China.

China Philippines
Total Population 1,330,044,544 96,061,680
Military Manpower Available 729,323,673 46,724,739
Fit for Military Service 609,273,077 38,059,588
Active Military Personnel 2,255,000 113,000
Active Military Reserves 800,000 131,000
Total Air-Based Weapons 1,900 257
Total Land-Based Weapons 31,300 411
Total Naval Units 760 36
Towed Artillery Systems 14,000 242
Merchant Marine Strength 1,822 391
Major Ports and Terminals 8 6
Aircraft Carriers 1 0
Destroyers 21 0
Frigates 42 1
Submarines 68 0
Patrol Coastal Craft 368 24
Mine Warfare Craft 39 0
Amphibious Operations Craft 121 12
Defense Budget / Expenditure $59,000,000,000 $1,348,000,000
Foreign Reserves $1,534,000,000,000 $33,750,000,000
Square Land Area 9,596,960 km 300,000 km

Source: Global Fire Power

China has 21 destroyers, the Philippines has none (oh, we do have slow-moving pump boats!) China has 68 submarines, the Philippines has zero. The Philippines has a longer coastline than China but we only have 24 patrol coastal craft, China has 368. No contest, China wins hands down! If worse comes to worst and the Philippines decides to go to war against the powerful China, the former will be collecting its disintegrated pump boats floating on the South China Sea.

But this should not be the reason not to fight for our right as a country. China violated our sovereignty by erecting structures and posts on islands within Philippine territory.

The only way to defeat a power is to fight it with power. Sadly, the Philippines lacks enough power.  The best direction to go is to tap its allies. Who else could that be other than the United States of America!

Philippine Star reported:

The Philippines conveyed to the US its resolve to strengthen its external defense capabilities amid the brewing disputes in the Spratly group of islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

…The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the situation in the West Philippine Sea, and shared the view that the recent incidents in the region are a source of concern that could undermine regional peace and stability.

The two officials agreed to consult closely on ways to protect their shared interest in maintaining freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the West Philippine Sea.

Indeed, the Philippines got what it wanted. Hillary Clinton pledged last week to help the Philippines by modernizing its navy and changing aging warship that was used by the U.S. during World War II.

“We are determined and committed to supporting the defense of the Philippines, and that means trying to find ways of providing affordable material and equipment that will assist the Philippine military to take the steps necessary to defend itself and to have a credible response against external threats at home and at the South China Sea”.

In relation to that, “three warships from the United States Navy (USN) are dropping anchor in the island province of Palawan on Tuesday for this year’s launching of the joint Philippines-US Naval war exercises, aka Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), aimed at further developing maritime security capabilities of the two nations’ naval forces.”

The US sailors as well as their other military assets that will be participating in the CARAT with their Filipino Navy counterparts, are composed of US Navy Seabees, representatives from the US Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST), the US Navy Mobile Security Squadron, a US Navy Riverine Force and Medical Support personnel.

CARAT would be held in the nearby waters of the West Philippine Sea where tension has been mounting for weeks now due to China’s aggressiveness in asserting its territorial claim over the entire region which the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan are also claiming in whole or in part

China is, of course, not pleased with the U.S. involvement in the issue. Vice foreign minister Cui Tiankai warned, “I believe some countries now are playing with fire. And I hope the US won’t be burned by this fire”.

Is the Philippines now sending a message to China that even how small a country it is, it won’t give in to bullies?

Now that the Philippines has the U.S. full support, what are the strings attached? The U.S. does not give anything for free. Is the U.S. helping the Philippines for its own interest? If it is, the ordinary Filipino may not care, as long as the Philippines remains relatively safe and secure under Uncle Sam’s protection.

I don’t think the tension will subside now that the Philippines is supported by the US. Nothing will change in terms of China’s aggression.

In fact, it has become even more tensed.

In fact, right now, it looks like the Philippines is trapped in the cold war between the U.S. and China. Aren’t the two powerful nations not in good terms?

To all of us following this story, we have not seen the worse yet. This is just the beginning.