China is set to lead a maritime cooperation forum today that will be held in its southernmost province of Hainan.
The main objective of the event is to discuss possible collaboration among China and its neighbouring Southeast Asian nations regarding maritime security and pollution in the South China Sea (SCS). Today, China will look to assert naval hegemony in the SCS by strengthening its multilateral ties. The Philippines sits among those China will look to strengthen alliances with, as it has begun to drift out of Beijing’s influence. In early October, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ended a six-year moratorium on fossil fuel exploration in the South China Sea, further increasing tensions between Beijing and Manila. Still, following the lifting of the moratorium, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian expressed Beijing’s willingness to re-establish cooperation.
Expect the forum to commence today without disturbance. China will attempt to exert pressure on the Philippines for future talks and negotiations. In the long term, the Philippines is unlikely to partner with China. The US-allied archipelagic nation is preparing for a tougher stance against Beijing as it criticises China’s expansionist policies and disputed actions in the SCS.
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Can is a Publisher and Analyst with Foreign Brief and currently pursuing his PhD in the Department of History at Bighampton University. His research there primarily focuses on the 19th-century Balkan independence movements.