Enhanced defense cooperation agreement: Aquino III's balancing strategy with the United States against China
Botardo, Alex S.
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This thesis seeks to examine the conditions that led Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to pursue the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States as the principal element of his strategy to balance against China. The EDCA will facilitate the U.S. military's rotational access to bases across the Philippines, allowing the former to increase its strategic footprint in the region and elevating the scope of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines. Aquino III's strong support for the EDCA, however, met an equally fervent opposition from political and public spheres, questioning the constitutionality of the agreement and legitimacy of Aquino's unilateral decision outside the purview of the Philippine Senate. Whereas the Aquino III administration considered the Chinese aggression in the South China Sea as an existential threat to the Philippines, the domestic opponents of the EDCA did not share Aquino's concern. Rather, while some of the opposition feared the costs of balancing with the United States and not just against China, others desired to avoid excessive U.S. influence.
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