From antagonistic to close neighbors?: Twenty-first century Philippines-China relations


College of Liberal Arts


International Studies

Document Type

Book Chapter

Source Title

Routledge Handbook of the Contemporary Philippines

First Page


Last Page


Publication Date



This chapter examines the Philippines’ and China’s efforts to pursue a smooth and cooperative relation from the mid-1970s to the second decade of the twenty-first century. It argues that these bilateral relations have been beset by two systemic factors - the South China Sea dispute and the presence of the United States as a Pacific power. From 2011 to 2016, the Philippines-China bilateral has been marred by mutual antagonism as the Aquino administration challenged the latter’s expansive maritime in the South China Sea. This policy can be traced back to 2011 when President Aquino stood up to China’s expansive claim and heavy-handed behavior in the South China Sea. He redirected the AFP’s focus from domestic security to territorial defense, fostered deeper Philippines-U.S. security arrangements; acquired American military equipment; and sought from Washington an unequivocal security guarantee under the 1951 MDT. The most salient component of this foreign policy is the signing of the EDCA, which provides American forward-deployed forces strategic rotational presence in Philippine territory, as well as extensive access to Philippine military facilities. A crucial challenge that President Duterte will face is whether his administration will continue or discontinue President Aquino’s agenda of challenging China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea. President Duterte needs to weigh whether or not to pursue this agenda given other foreign policy concerns (economic diplomacy and protection of OFWs) and the opportunity cost of a strained bilateral relationship with the second largest economy in the world. © 2018 selection and editorial matter, Mark R. Thompson and Eric Vincent C. Batalla; individual chapters, the contributors.


Digitial Object Identifier (DOI)



International Relations


Philippines—Foreign relations—China; China—Foreign relations—Philippines

Upload File


This document is currently not available here.