Philippines

Philippines

China and America’s rivalry heads to Manila
The United States and China have both stepped up their efforts to woo the Philippines as the two global powers fight for supremacy on multiple fronts, including the South China Sea. On Friday, the agriculture ministry in Manila announced that a US-funded animal disease laboratory had opened in the northern region of Luzon, The Manila Bulletin reported. Earlier in the week, Sung Kim, the US ambassador to the Philippines, said he had handed over 5,000 hygiene kits and 16 handwashing stations to Manila’s mayor to aid local efforts to combat Covid-19.  That donation came after the US last month provided the Southeast Asian nation with 100 new ventilators. The latest American charm offensive cam
The Philippines is now the online gambling capital of China
Inside a well-lit Manila studio, a young Filipino woman in heavy make-up and a low-cut black dress deals card for a game of baccarat, a popular game in casinos worldwide. But she stands alone – the players are thousands of miles away in mainland China. A camera directly opposite produces a video stream which is then marketed to the mainland, where gambling is illegal. Anyone who wants in on the bet must use a VPN to circumvent China’s Great Firewall, which the government uses to keep a tight leash on its domestic internet. After each hand, the dealer deftly swipes the card across a bar code to update the website and show the players if they have won or lost. More data is sent to a server ope
Rise of Chinese sex rings catches Philippines by surprise
A sudden new development in the sex trade in the Philippines has left the country’s law enforcers scratching their heads: the rise of Chinese prostitutes catering exclusively to Chinese customers. Nearly 300 Chinese sex workers and their clients were rounded up in raids by the Philippine authorities on 12 brothels in six cities in the second half of last year, the Philippine media company ABS-CBN reported this week. Agents believe all the raided premises were being run by mainland Chinese, for Chinese clients. A source at the National Bureau of Investigation who took part in one of the raids told the South China Morning Post the brothels are a “new development.” The brothels’ customers, pros
Can China turn off its neighbor’s entire power grid?
Philippine senators have called for an investigation into the security implications of China’s part ownership of the national energy grid, after officials said engineers in Beijing could plunge the entire country into darkness with the flick of a switch. The State Grid Corporation of China, China’s largest utility company, holds a 40% stake in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), a private consortium in charge of running the country’s power grid.  Opposition Liberal Party senator Risa Hontiveros first raised questions over the extent of Beijing’s control over the Philippines' power network, given the continuing territorial dispute between the two countries in the South Ch
China can’t afford to browbeat the Philippines into submission
One of the more successful regional relationships that China has pursued in the past few years is with the Philippines. Before Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in May 2016, he had for several months been the front runner in the contest. Concerns had been expressed among Filipinos that Duterte’s established style – he was known as a mercurial character, similar to US President Donald Trump – might lead to confrontation, particularly with China. At the time, the Permanent Court of Arbitration was considering a case brought by the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) questioning the legality of China’s “nine-dash line” claim to sovereig
The US and Philippines beef up war games near contested South China Sea
The US and the Philippines expanded the scope of their annual military exercises this week, as China’s military build-up in the South China Sea drives Manila back into Washington’s arms. The “Balikatan” exercise, which started Monday, will see 5,000 Filipino troops and 3,000 American soldiers take part in mutual defense, counter-terrorism and disaster response drills in the Southeast Asian country over the next two weeks. Live-fire combat drills and amphibious raids, which were scrapped from last year’s drills, will be part of the exercises this month, signaling a resumption in strong defense ties between US and its longstanding Asian ally. Last week, CNBC reported that Beijing had installed