The United States and its allies are testing the patience of China.

When the third highest official from Washington recently visited Taiwan, Beijing reacted with dangerous military live-fire exercises in the waters around the tiny self-ruled island.

The continuing drills demonstrated Beijing’s claim of sovereignty. It considers Taiwan a renegade province and would not hesitate to use force to reunite the island with the mainland.

Western security analysts believe China has more valid reasons to invade Taiwan than Russia’s military adventures into Ukraine, another sovereign state in Eastern Europe. 

While Moscow was trying to create a buffer zone to prevent the US and its Western allies from encroaching into its borders, Beijing will try to reclaim its own territory.

It already had regained control over Tibet, Macau and Hong Kong and Taiwan is the only remaining territory that falls outside its jurisdiction.

China has ambitions to regain its honor and glory by 2049, or 100 years after the Communist Party rose to power from the ashes of the Second World War and from the humiliation at the hands of European powers in the late 19th century.

Great Britain, France, Germany, and Portugal carved out areas in the eastern coastal regions of the weakened Qing Manchu dynasty in the late 19th century. Imperial Japan came in the first half of the 20th century and committed untold atrocities to the Chinese people during the war.

China would like to forget the bitter past and rise again under the Communist Party to dominate the world by 2049. It has become the second largest economy next to the United States and, in a decade, may soon become number one in the world. It also wants to be the mightiest military power.

Michael Pillsbury, who served in national security positions in many US administrations, had outlined in his 2015 book “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower,” Beijing’s ambitions to unify with Taiwan and rule the world by 2049.


US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pitstop in Taiwan during her four-nation Asian swing has given Beijing an excuse to flex its muscles, warning Washington and its allies that they could be playing with fire by meddling in its internal affairs.

Taiwan is an emotional and sensitive issue. The word war could escalate into a dangerous armed confrontation as Beijing has not backed down and even continued to hold live drills around the island.

From 2020, China has been sending waves of military aircraft and vessels into Taiwan’s air and maritime space, testing the limits of Taiwan’s defense capabilities.

China has increased the tempo of its military operations, which has led Western security analysts to predict that Beijing may invade Taipei in two years.

The predictions coupled with the increased Chinese military activities around Taiwan have raised concerns in the region, especially among Southeast Asian nations.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has warned of “a gathering storm” in the region as the risk of US-China miscalculations escalates.

Although US State Secretary Antony Blinken assured allies and partners in the region it has no intention to raise further tensions, the political actions from US and other Western lawmakers, including planned visits to Taiwan, continued to anger China.

It also did not help to calm the waters when the US Navy and its allies continued to hold freedom of navigation patrols in the disputed waters in South China Sea as well as into Taiwan Straits.

There were several US carrier battle groups in the region when Pelosi made a brief visit to Taiwan as China went into drills in six areas around the island.

The danger of miscalculations is high because of the presence of US and Chinese naval forces near Taiwan. A US carrier battle group even passed through the Philippines and stayed within the country’s waters.

The US political and military actions are not only testing China’s patience, it is inviting Beijing to take forceful measurer. There has been a long history of drastic Chinese actions when provoked.

The Philippines learned its lessons when it tried to arrest Chinese fishermen poaching in Scarborough Shoal in 2012. China seized control of the rocky outcrop located within the Philippines’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

When Manila went to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in 2013 to question China’s excessive nine-dash-line claim in the South China Sea, Beijing responded by building seven man-made islands in the disputed Spratly.

China could not be taunted. It would certainly respond strongly. It would be wise for the Philippines, under Ferdinand Marcos Jr, to stay away from the fray and join Southeast Asian neighbors in calling for “maximum restraint” to avoid open conflict in the region which serves no one.  

The world does not need another conflict. It would be a disaster. The war in Ukraine has disrupted the global supply chain, pushed food and energy prices up, and caused a humanitarian crisis.

A confrontation between the world’s largest economies and military power could wrought so much havoc on the world.

It could also directly affect the Philippines for a number of reasons.

First, the Philippines is a long-time military ally of the United States, its former colonial master and number one source of military aid, under a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

Second, the US has limited military presence in the country under the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The VFA allows the temporary rotational presence of US troops and equipment  in the country for military exercises and training. The US has used these military exercises and training to preposition its forces in the region under its Pacific Deterrence Initiative, part of its Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China’s expanding influence in the region.

Early this year, the US deployed, for the first time, two batteries of its Patriot missile system in northern Luzon, near Taiwan, during the 2022 Balikatan exercises. It also constantly displayed its high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) in military drills, the same weapon systems it had given to Ukraine to hit long-range Russian targets.

The US military also has access to five local military bases, including four air bases which it uses as staging points for any operations in the region. The surveillance planes, P3C-Orions, and P8 Poseidon have been freely taking off and landing in an airfield outside the EDCA identified military bases since 2012.

The US military presence could make the Philippines a magnet for attack should open armed confrontation erupt between the US and China in the near future. And this would likely happen as security analysts predict a Chinese invasion on Taiwan in two years.

The US has vowed to defend Taiwan in case of a Chinese aggression and has forcefully warned Beijing not to change the status quo on the self-ruled island.

The world is teetering on a brink of global conflagration. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned of a nuclear war which could have catastrophic effects on the world.

The Philippines should join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and other nations to stop global powers from descending into destructive conflicts.

The Philippines should help reduce tensions in the Taiwan Straits.

There are no winners in a war. Everyone loses. Smaller countries, like the Philippines, will take more blows than the bigger powers.