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Balikatan 2024 escalates tension, US is using PH as pawn against China

Editorial | Updates Philippines Vol. VI No. 08 – April 30, 2024

The Marcos Jr. administration serves the Filipino people on a silver platter to the US by allowing the country to be dragged into the massive US-led military build-up against China, threatening to engulf the whole region in an all-out war.

The 39th “Balikatan” (meaning shoulder-to-shoulder) joint military exercises involve 16,000 combined troops of the US military and Armed Forces of the Philippines, contingents from the Australian Defense Force and the French Navy. The war drills began on 22 April and will end on 10 May.

In a calculated move to provoke further military tension with China, the US Army touts the deployment of its newest ground-based Typhon mid-range capability (MRC) missile system capable of firing Tomahawk and SM-6 missiles in the Balikatan 2024 war exercises. These medium range missiles have the capacity to hit targets at sea and China.

The Balikatan war games form part of the US containment strategy to encircle China by fortifying a chain of islands from the Kuril Islands, the Japanese archipelago, Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, Northern Philippines and Borneo extending all the way to the Malay Peninsula.

Amidst the failure of the US proxy war in Ukraine and unpopular support to the Israeli genocidal war against the Palestinians, Joe Biden seeks to open a new warfront in Asia in a bid to project an image of “defending small countries against China” – in order to boost his reelection campaign this November. 

To this effect, the US seeks to exploit the territorial conflict in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea, emboldening Marcos Jr. to resort to military measures against the Chinese “gray zone” tactics (aggressive non-armed attack) in the contested waters. This is intended to prod China into a miscalculation which the US can use to further escalate military actions by invoking the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) it has with the Philippines.

Despite the humanitarian crisis that wars create, war is good business for the US military-industrial complex. Marcos Jr. is oblivious of the billions of pesos from public coffers being used to purchase second-hand military hardware from the US and other US allies. Kowtowing to US dictates bolster US support for his regime.

Meanwhile, with full US-backing, the Marcos family is assured from prosecution over a long-standing contempt order from US courts worth $353 million pertaining to their ill-gotten wealth.