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South China Sea Risks Advisory 1/1

Image created by Wix AI

18  APRIL 2024


High Impact Event


Apart from the US, Japan, Philippines trilateral summit, there was much turmoil in the media space in Philippines as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. denied the existence of a “gentleman’s agreement” between his predecessor – Rodrigo Duterte and the Chinese government that Manila would not repair the military outpost on a contested shoal in the South China Sea. The controversy erupted after Harry Roque, who served as Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential spokesperson, told the media that the former President had agreed informally to observe the status quo in disputed waters and refrain from the construction of military outposts.




US, Japan, Philippines trilateral summit in Washington is seen as a substantial new step in the attempt to contain Chinese aggressive action against smaller nations in the region. The joint statement of the trilateral summit highlighted China as a common threat. US President Joe Biden made "ironclad" defense pledges to Japan and the Philippines on April 11, as he hosted his counterparts amid growing tensions with Beijing, whose actions the three leaders described as "dangerous and aggressive." "Any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty," Biden said as he met Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House.


Economic and Energy Activity


China commenced operation of a deep mobile oil rig in the northern rim of South China Sea, to extract resources amid growing emphasis on energy security and technological self-reliance. The offshore home-grown rig is in the Enping oilfield, about 200km (124 miles) southwest of Shenzhen city as per state broadcaster CCTV. Developed by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), the rig has a drilling capacity of 9,085 metres, with 8,689 metres being horizontal, making it the deepest and longest China has drilled.


Risks and Impact


                China’s concerns of being out-partnered by the US and allies is expected to give an impetus to an aggressive response in expanding own interests through increase an alternate partnership network in the region, expanding military presence and gray zone operations. In short, US led partners and China’s rivalry in the region is expected to intensify.


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