The Philippines’ political capture: former US colony, future proxy

The stooges doing Washington’s bidding in Manilla are putting their country on course to become the region’s Ukraine.

Although it achieved its formal independence from US imperialism in 1945, the Philippines continues to be dominated politically, economically and militarily by the USA. Only this explains why the current regime in Manilla seems intent on holding back the country’s prospects for peaceful development, instead lining itself up as a major base for the USA’s war drive against China in the Pacific.

Reproduced from New Eastern Outlook with thanks.


Tensions continue to grow in the Asia-Pacific region and more specifically in the South China Sea, where China faces off against the United States and its collection of regional proxies including Japan and Australia.

While the USA claims these growing tensions stem from China’s desire to undermine “freedom of navigation” and stability in the region, it is instead part of a decades-long US policy of containing China.

As the USA continues to implement this policy, the prospects of a Ukraine-style conflict-by-proxy erupting in the Asia-Pacific region grow.

USA seeks to control Asia-Pacific, not protect it

In US state department documents from as far back as the 1960s, it is admitted that America’s military presence in Asia is maintained, “in support of a long-run United States policy to contain Communist China”.

These same documents admit that the USA maintains three fronts to “contain China” including: “(a) the Japan-Korea front; (b) the India-Pakistan front; and (c) the southeast Asia front”.

Washington currently maintains tens of thousands of US troop along the ‘Japan-Korea front’.

Along the ‘India-Pakistan front’ the USA has attempted to undermine Chinese-Pakistani ties through the backing of armed separatists in Balochistan province, targeting infrastructure projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) all while the USA courts India as part of its anti-China ‘Quad’ alliance.

Along the ‘southeast Asia front’, the USA has attempted to build up and install into power anti-Chinese political parties. In Myanmar, Washington is backing an armed conflict attempting to overthrow the China-friendly government and replace it with a US client regime. But at the very centre of current and growing tensions between the USA and China is the southeast Asian state of the Philippines.

Far from ‘supporting’ the Philippines, Washington fully intends to pit the nation against China at the expense of the Philippines’ own best interests.

While China stands as the Philippines’ largest and most important trade partner and Manila’s best prospect for developing badly needed modern infrastructure, Washington would have Filipino public funds diverted instead to military spending, fuelling tensions that will jeopardise trade and infrastructure cooperation with China.

Instead of Chinese-built roads, rail, ports, hospitals and schools amid growing bilateral trade, the archipelago nation will instead invest in ships, warplanes and military facilities to host US troops.

Like Ukraine in eastern Europe, the Philippines will watch its economy spiral as public time, money, energy and attention is increasingly invested into a growing proxy conflict orchestrated by and for Washington. The Philippines, already tragically lagging behind the rest of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) alliance members, will see the gap in economic power and development widen even further over the next decade if Washington’s political capture of Manila continues.

A former colony, not a ‘friend’

It is important to understand that while the US state department talks about “support for the Philippines in the South China Sea”, and helping to protect “lawful Philippine maritime operations” against a “dangerous” China, it was the United States that did, in fact, invade, occupy and colonise the Philippines.

During America’s colonial rule, the people of the Philippines were brutalised and exploited.

The US state department on its own webpage titled, ‘The Philippine-American War, 1899–1902’, admits:

“After its defeat in the Spanish-American war of 1898, Spain ceded its longstanding colony of the Philippines to the United States in the Treaty of Paris.

“The ensuing Philippine-American war lasted three years and resulted in the death of over 4,200 American and over 20,000 Filipino combatants. As many as 200,000 Filipino civilians died from violence, famine and disease.”

The US state department’s Office of the Historian also admits: “US forces at times burned villages, implemented civilian reconcentration policies, and employed torture on suspected guerrillas.”

The Philippines gained independence only in 1945, but has since been the subject of longstanding efforts by Washington to reassert influence over the country, including through the basing of US military forces and now Washington’s overt use of the Philippines as a proxy in its policy of confronting and containing China.

The exploitation of impoverished Filipinos by the USA continued long after the country gained formal ‘independence’, including specifically on US bases in the Philippines itself. The Nation, in a 2023 article titled ‘Preparing for war in the South China Sea’, would admit:

“Activists say they are troubled by the fact that when the United States employed tens of thousands of Filipinos at the Clark and Subic Bay bases, those workers faced exploitation and wage discrimination, a dynamic intensified by US assertions that it could override Philippine labour law.”

The same article noted how even as the US begins to expand its military presence in the Philippines today, damage done to the population and environment from previous decades of military occupation has yet to be rectified.

Fabricating a pretext

While the western media attempts to convince the global public that China represents a unique threat to maritime freedom of navigation and territorial claims in the South China Sea, the region is, in fact, the site of multiple overlapping maritime claims resulting in longstanding disputes not just between various southeast Asian claimants and China, but also among themselves.

The disputes can at times escalate in spectacular fashion.

The Star, a Malaysian media platform, in a 2023 article titled ‘Kelantan MMEA disposes of seven seized Vietnamese boats’, and the Vietnamese media platform VN Express, in a 2018 article titled ‘Indonesia sinks 86 Vietnamese fishing boats’, illustrate not only that maritime disputes exist among southeast Asian nations and have spanned many years, but that these disputes regularly involve confrontations at sea resulting in detained crews, seized vessels and even the sinking of such vessels.

Despite the seemingly severe nature of these confrontations, bilateral and regional diplomatic relations, trade and cooperation continue on good and growing terms. In other words, while these disputes exist, competing claimants value and benefit from regional stability more than from escalating these specific disputes. The economic and political value of any one claimant resolving these disputes decisively in their favour is negligible compared to the benefits of continued stability and cooperation with other claimants, including China.

The United States has crossed the entire Pacific Ocean to insert itself into these otherwise ordinary and common disputes, and to try to escalate them into a regional or even global conflict. The USA and its allies, including Australia and Japan, are using this as a pretext to militarise the Philippines and back it in a confrontation with China, all in an attempt to dangerously disrupt the status quo surrounding these existing disputes and at the expense not only of the Philippines’ relations with China but at the expense of regional stability.

According to Harvard University’s Atlas of Economic Complexity, as of 2021, China represented the Philippines’ largest export market at around 33 percent versus the USA at 14.5 percent, Japan at 11 percent and Australia at less than 1 percent. Even combined, the anti-China Aukus alliance together with Japan represents a smaller export market than China for the Philippines.

The Philippines counts China as its largest source of imports as well, at 35 percent while Aujus+Japan combined accounts for less than 16 percent.

It is also important to consider that the majority of the Philippines’ trade is conducted across Asia. Therefore, in addition to sabotaging trade with China directly, a regional conflict would impact and undermine the Philippines’ trade with the rest of Asia, just as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has undermined both Ukraine’s own economy and Europe’s economy as a whole.

Just as the USA did to Ukraine following its political capture by Washington in 2014, there are no viable alternatives offered for the Philippines to replace its economic interaction with China as it eagerly escalates toward conflict with Beijing. If tensions continue to grow and economic ties begin to unravel, the Philippines, like Ukraine, will simply lose economic prosperity while diverting what little wealth it has into increased military spending.

The notion that China poses a genuine threat to the Philippines based on longstanding, ongoing maritime disputes (which exist worldwide even among European nations) is simply a fabricated pretext for a vast regional military build-up led by the United States in an attempt to contain China.

The notion that China is threatening trade and navigation in the South China Sea is also a fabricated pretext. The vast majority of all maritime shipping transiting the South China Sea is either coming from or going to China, including to and from nations like the Philippines, according to the US government-funded Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in a study titled ‘How much trade transits the South China Sea?

More than a quarter of all shipping through the South China Sea consists of Chinese exports. Other regional nations moving exports through the South China Sea count China as their largest or one of their largest trade partners, meaning that many of these exports are likely headed to China itself.

Here is revealed the true purpose of a US military build-up in and around the South China Sea – threatening, interfering with and possibly even interdicting Chinese maritime trade, all as part of a wider effort to contain China. An additional benefit of this policy is the sabotaging of other regional economies, creating a weaker Asia over which Washington is better able to maintain primacy.

As is often the case, US imperialism is pursuing a policy that is diametrically opposed to the fictional ones it publicly announces. The USA is supposedly involved in protecting the maritime trade of nations like the Philippines through the South China Sea from China – the very nation the Philippines is trading with the most.

The price the Philippines is paying Washington for this ‘protection’ from fictional Chinese aggression and encroachment is the very real surrender of Filipino sovereignty, territory, foreign policy control and economic prospects to Washington.

Only time will tell how long the Philippines will spiral down into the sociopolitical and economic black hole Washington has opened beneath it, but as Ukraine has demonstrated, the longer the Philippines spirals toward it, the harder it will be to avert the inevitability of disappearing into it entirely.