PH urged to prepare contingency measures amid US-China tension over Taiwan

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 5) — A security analyst is urging the Philippine government to prepare its contingency measures amid the growing tension between the US and China over Taiwan.

Chester Cabalza, president and founder of the International Development and Security Cooperation discussed with CNN Philippines' The Source on Friday what the conflict between the two superpowers over Taiwan will likely mean for the Philippines.

"This is a case of a balancing act for the Philippines. We know the two powers are competing in our backyard. China is our leading trading partner right now, the US is the oldest ally of the Philippines, and Taiwan hosts thousands of Filipino workers. So you see the complexity of the dynamics of our relations with these three countries," Cabalza said.

He explained that the current and past Philippine administrations have always been consistent in adhering to the One-China Policy as part of the government's balancing act, but this position may also require the country to consider its next contingency measures in case things take a turn for the worse.

"The pronouncement of the government that we adhere to the One-China Policy is true and we are consistent with that in all administrations in the Philippines, including this current administration...we have robust and unofficial relations with Taiwan through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office," Cabalza said.

"If in case the tension will escalate and will create military tensions in terms of shooting wars, we should prepare contingency measures. We have a national interest in Taiwan because of our OFWs," he explained. "If China retakes Taiwan because that's part of their rejuvenated policy that all of their lost territories will be part of China by 2049, basically the Philippines will automatically become a buffer zone because we are very close to China and that will create a lot of red flags in terms of our national security."

However, Cabalza noted that since China has no world war experience, what the world is seeing now is "part of their performance to flex their military muscles." There can also be a rise of alliances on the side of the US, with countries like Japan and Australia.

The Philippines must also consider that it is just one of several countries who are stakeholders in the South China Sea, apart from Taiwan and China, he said.

"Right now, we are modernizing our military because of China's threat that we are perceiving but of course it depends on how we will perform our balancing act, through the independent foreign policy and also how we will craft our independent foreign policy because we see China as a rising superpower, and the US is also considered a major power," Cabalza said. "We don't know if China will maintain this position or a new superpower will be proclaimed in the future."