WHAT ARE THE MAIN CAUSES OF PHILIPPINE RESPONSES TO CHINA COERCION IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA?
Massey, Winston A.
Malley, Michael S.
Meyskens, Covell F.
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In the past decade, the Philippines has reacted differently over time to China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. This thesis aims to explain the most likely causes of Philippine behavior. Using five case studies from 2012–2021, this thesis examines how the following six factors influenced resistance or accommodating behavior in the two most recent presidential administrations: trust in the U.S.–Philippine alliance, policies to protect claims, strength of China’s military capabilities, diplomatic interests, political interests, and economic interests. The thesis finds that resistance behavior is more likely to occur when there is high trust in the U.S.–Philippine alliance, a strong policy to protect claims, weak Chinese military capabilities, decreased diplomatic interests, decreased political interests, and decreased economic interests. Conversely, accommodating behavior is more likely to occur when there is low trust in the U.S.–Philippine alliance, a weak policy to protect claims, strong Chinese military capabilities, increased diplomatic interests, increased political interests, and increased economic interests. Taking these factors into account, the thesis recommends that the United States increases security and economic ties to enhance the Philippines’ confidence to push back against an asymmetric threat while also reducing the likelihood of accommodating behavior by helping the Philippines to limit its economic dependencies on China.
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