The Philippines is encouraging the United States, Britain, and Australia to form a new defense partnership. It hopes that it will help to maintain a power balance in the Indo-Pacific region. This view contrasts sharply with that of some of its neighbors.
The AUKUS deal is the alliance with Australia to get the technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines as part of the agreement intended to respond to growing Chinese power. On Tuesday, Philippines Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin said in a statement that the enhancement of a near-abroad ally’s ability to project power will be restored and will maintain the balance rather than destabilize it. The Minister’s remark differs from the stance of Indonesia and Malaysia as he sounds alarmed about the nuclear power submarines. According to him, this will lead to growing rivalries between Southeast Asian superpowers.
Locsin believes omitting the presence of nuclear weapons, the AUKUS move will not violate the 1995 treaty to keep nuclear arms out of Southeast Asia. It continues to be a source of tension as western allies regularly conduct “freedom of navigation” operations to which China has reacted angrily. China claims the waters as its own and conflicts with other coastal states like the Philippines and Vietnam that have accused China of harassing fishermen and energy activities.