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Philippines Opens New Surveillance Station Near Taiwan Amid US-Led Militarization

© AFP 2023 / JAM STA ROSAPhilippine soldiers look at Philippine Coast Guard vessels near Thitu Island in the disputed South China Sea on December 1, 2023.
Philippine soldiers look at Philippine Coast Guard vessels near Thitu Island in the disputed South China Sea on December 1, 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.05.2024
Amid rising tensions between Beijing and Manila over the disputed waters in the South China Sea, an increasingly militarized Philippines triggered further ire in China by taking part in the massive Balikatan joint drills with the US earlier this month.
The Philippines has opened a new Coast Guard station on an island facing Taiwan to boost surveillance.
The monitoring station on the island of Itbayat in the northern Batanes province will be tasked with gathering data and intelligence to “enhance maritime domain awareness and strengthen the security measures along Luzon Strait,” National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano said in a statement.
The strategic move falls in line with the US-led master plan to offset perceived threats from China. The Philippine official cited Beijing’s alleged “military buildup” in the Luzon Strait and presence of China-flagged research and/or survey vessels.
The Luzon Strait lies between the Philippines’ island of Luzon and Taiwan. Itbayat is some 200 kilometers away from Cape Eluanbi, the southernmost point on the island of Taiwan.

Taiwan has been governed independently of mainland China since 1949. Beijing views the island as its province, while Taiwan — a territory with its own elected government — maintains that it is an autonomous country, but stops short of declaring independence. China opposes any official contacts of foreign states with Taipei and considers Chinese sovereignty over the island indisputable.

The new facility was inaugurated on Thursday in a ceremony led by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) chief Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan.
The move will serve to enhance the PCG’s capabilities in an area that is “very important, being the northern tip of the country; our borders are porous and we need to monitor what’s happening there,” spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo was cited as telling the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
© Photo : coastguardphScreenshot of X post by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Screenshot of X post by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.05.2024
Screenshot of X post by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
The timing of the station’s inauguration coincided with China’s sweeping military drills around Taiwan in a “strong punishment” for the separatist acts of "Taiwan independence" forces and a "stern warning" to interference and provocation by “external forces.”

Codenamed Joint Sword 2024A, the exercises conducted from May 23 to 24 involve military services including the army, navy, air force, and rocket force. The drills are being held in the Taiwan Strait, north, south, and east of Taiwan, as well as areas around the Taiwan-controlled islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin, as per the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

China's drills also come as the US has been further stoking tensions in the region with a swathe of joint military exercises. The expansive US-Philippines Balikatan war games in April were held near the South China Sea, where both Beijing and Manila have territorial claims.
Ther PRC slammed the drills as only serving to further exacerbate regional tensions.
The Philippines "should understand that drawing in countries outside the South China Sea to flex their muscles and stoke confrontation in the region will only intensify tensions and undermine regional stability," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said in a statement.
Former Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte also warned current President Bongbong Marcos Jr. about the risks of kowtowing to the US, while accusing Washington of trying to provoke a war between the Philippines and China. The Philippines, a key US ally in the region that hosts its military bases, is being increasingly militarized by the US in an effort to shape the island nation into a "proxy for a potential conflict with China,” geopolitical analysts told Sputnik.
Philippines exercise director for Balikatan Major General Marvin Licudine (L) and US exercise director for Balikatan Lieutenant General William Jurney (R) unfurl the exercise flag during the opening ceremony of the 'Balikatan' joint military exercise at the military headquarters in Quezon City, suburban Manila on April 22, 2024. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.04.2024
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