Shipyard Becomes Focal Point in Quest to Deter China

( – The Philippines is becoming a focal point in the battle to control the region as the Chinese Navy and Coast Guard regularly harass travelers in the South China Sea claiming sovereign control of huge swaths of the territory.

Shipbuilding in the region was originally dominated by Japanese corporations, but over time labor costs became prohibitive, with most of the industry moving to South Korea. After cracking down on infiltrators from North Korea stirring up communist trouble, the industry was in a period of strong growth.

They built a huge shipyard in 2006 in the Subic Bay in the Philippines which fell into insolvency before being shuttered entirely in 2019. China soon began to eye the property. Meanwhile, Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines, promising a more neutral approach to both the U.S. and China. Shortly thereafter, Duterte realigned with the U.S. after China proved combative.

Simultaneously China became very interested in the South Korean shipyard, with rumors that it may purchase the property and even turn it into a military base.

The Philippines and China have clashed recently over the Scarborough Shoals with both nations claiming them as their territory. The international community recognizes the land as belonging to the Philippines as it lands inside its economic exclusion zone. The potential for China to establish military outposts on the shoals would give it forward operating abilities to launch weapons or even maintain a regular military presence.

The Philippines announced an agreement with America for four new bases in the area and an American investment fund called Cerberus headed by former Bush Vice President Dan Quayle has spearheaded efforts to revitalize the industry and Subic Bay shipyard.

Cerberus is also developing improvements to the Cubi Point Naval Air Station, also in the Subic Bay, which will act as a major cargo and transportation hub in the region. The airfield is also capable of hosting large vessels like aircraft carriers and cargo ships.

The military is reportedly evaluating potential plans to revitalize U.S. naval facilities in the region and establish a permanent presence in the Subic Bay. Taiwan is close to the area, and any increased U.S. presence would act as a powerful deterrent, should China ponder to taking the island by force.

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