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Will US-Philippines dialogue only worsen South China Sea tensions?

The Philippines will host the talks for the first time since the dialogue began in 2012, with three unambiguous messages likely to be conveyed.

The more robust the ties that the Philippines builds with foreign powers, the more leverage it has in negotiations. Therefore, a reinforced relationship with the US via the “2+2” dialogue would be beneficial to Manila’s negotiations with Beijing.

During last year’s meeting, Washington and Manila resolved to “modernise” their alliance and optimise mutual defence capabilities. This year’s dialogue comes as the Philippines continues its operations in disputed waters in the South China Sea.


Marcos Jnr says China showing interest in South China Sea atolls that lie close to the Philippines

In conclusion, next month’s “2+2” Philippines-US dialogue is likely to advance defence cooperation between the two countries. Any resulting increase in Manila’s ’ assertiveness in the South China Sea could risk intensifying confrontation in the disputed waters.

Nian Peng is director of the Hong Kong Research Centre for Asian Studies (RCAS), Hong Kong