The Philippines and Vietnam have announced their plans to sign a strategic partnership agreement by year’s end, in an effort to counter China’s aggressive moves in the region. The move is planned to take place at the November Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in Manila.
As China continues to pursue its South China Sea annexation strategy, it maintains a public position of peace. These conflicting goals were displayed last week in its WWII victory parade, which showcased its latest military hardware even as president Xi Jinping made affirmations of China’s commitment to peace. The parallel to Hitler’s actions in the lead up to WWII is as striking as it is ironic. Following Germany’s annexation of parts of Czechoslovakia in early 1938, the United Kingdom and other nations responded by signing the Munich Agreement with Hitler, which stated that Czechoslovakia must allow the annexations.
President Xi stated during last week’s ceremony that his nation does not seek war, but will defend its interests in the region. Translation, if you let us keep doing what we want there won’t be any trouble. China knows of the potential response to its continued pressure in the South China Sea, which is why it chose to display row after row of its newest anti-ship missile, the DF-21D, capable of destroying an aircraft carrier in one hit. This was just one among the many other ballistic missiles on display during the parade.
Philippine president Benigno Aquino has made comparisons between China and Nazi Germany in the past, as he has pressured world leaders to take more action on the issue. Japan and the Philippines were the only countries who chose not to send any government representatives to China’s victory parade last week.
Although Vietnam has a more complicated relationship with China due to the presence of many pro-Chinese in the country’s leadership, they have since moved ahead with a strategic partnership with the Philippines that first began in last November’s APEC forum in Beijing. The move does not appear to be purely symbolic either, as both countries plan for future joint naval exercises and trade initiatives.