China has Asia scrambling for super-alliance to stop serious escalation

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China’s hostility towards its neighbours has fuelled calls for stronger regional alliances to fend off potential acts of aggression.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, whose country has taken the brunt of Beijing’s hostility in recent weeks, warned China had grown “more assertive” and its conduct threatened to destabilise the region.

Marcos Jr insisted there is now a need to forge strong regional alliances akin to the trilateral alliance his country struck with Japan and the US to push back on the People’s Republic of China’s hostile behaviour.

Speaking to Japanese media, the Filipino President said: “I’m afraid we’ll have to be able to say that tensions have increased rather than diminished for the past months or the past years.

“We have to… continue to counsel peace and continue communication between the different countries – everyone that is involved.”

Only last week, Manila and Beijing traded accusations over a collision between vessels in the contested South China Sea.

The Philippines have laid a claim on part of the area, including the Second Thomas Shoal where it grounded the ship Sierra Madre in 1999 to establish a military outpost on the reef.

Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim part of the South China Sea and have faced aggressive action from the PRC.

Marcos Jr insisted China’s conduct requires Asian countries to adopt “new solutions” to address the “serious escalation” Beijing has been pursuing.

He added: “It is not sufficient actually with just Japan and the Philippines to enter into this agreement. We really must get more of these kind of arrangements in place.”

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Sunday adopted a joint vision that emphasises security and economic cooperation while respecting the rule of law amid growing tensions with China in regional seas.

In recent years the ties have focused more on security amid China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, while Japan’s postwar pacifist stance and trust-building efforts have fostered friendlier relations.

The leaders stressed “respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means and renunciation of the threat or use of force,” but without identifying China.

Tokyo adopted a new security strategy last year and has been rapidly building up its military and expanding its military partnerships to better counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

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