Mon. Oct 2nd, 2023

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Contributing writer
No country has a more immediate sense of China’s aggressive impulses than does the Philippines.
Philippine fishermen are regularly harassed by Chinese maritime militia and navy, often denied access to traditional fishing grounds; its navy has engaged in literal tug of wars over missile debris found in its waters; Manila has been deceived in diplomatic negotiations over disputed territory; and it has won arbitral court rulings that were ignored or dismissed by the Beijing government. Manila’s protests go unheeded as Chinese forces carve away at Philippine territory.
That history should make the Philippines the poster child for cooperative efforts to bolster Southeast Asian security and stability. To put it another way, if concerned nations can’t rally behind Manila, then there is little chance of success elsewhere in the region. While the odds remain long — regional governments remain ready to avert their eyes to China’s misbehavior — conversations in Manila last week provide some reasons for optimism.
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