brahmos supersonic cruise missile: why philippines buying brahmos supersonic missile from india

new Delhi: The Philippines has recently signed the first foreign deal with India for the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. This comes at a time when ASEAN countries’ relations with China have become complicated. This will be the first time that the armed forces of the Philippines will acquire such a weapon. Renato Cruz de Castro, Professor of International Studies at De La Salle University in Manila, talks with Rudronil Ghosh about what this means for the Philippines’ strategy and security.

sometimes close to china sometimes far

A gradual change began in 2011 during Benigno Aquino’s previous regime, mainly due to China’s maritime expansion. At that time there were money, bureaucratic problems and other issues due to which time wasted. This deal is happening now and is also important because the policy of appeasement towards China was adopted during the early stages of the Rodrigo Duterte administration. Actually, then China was considered the best friend of the Philippines. All this has changed in the last few years.

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On what caused this change, Professor Renato Cruz de Castro explained that in February 2020, President Duterte decided to cancel the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US. It simply meant moving away from America and closer to China. Just two weeks after Duterte’s decision, a Chinese warship of the Philippine Navy was at gunpoint. Even before this, China has reneged on many of its promises. In the end Duterte realized that he was making a mistake and decided to postpone the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

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In July last year he withdrew the termination notice, improved our security relationship with the US, and even praised the formation of AUKUS. Will this change the equation in the South China Sea? De Castro said about this that you have to remember that this year we have elections. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the candidate and one who has already indicated that everything will change once he is elected. Marcos has said that China is our best friend and if it comes to power, once again the focus of the Philippine Armed Forces will be diverted from the South China Sea to internal security. His argument is that there is no way for the Philippines to build up the military capabilities to match China.

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On how to compete, Professor de Castro pointed out that the Philippines in particular is the least dependent on China compared to other ASEAN countries. We are not really part of a China centric supply chain. The US, Australia and India that are outside the region, the best bet would be to plan for the entire region through the Quad, gain Japan’s support and play a leading role.

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