Recent events at the Scarborough and Second Thomas Shoals have spotlighted China’s aggressive maritime tactics. The dispute, dating back to 2012 when China claimed the atoll, has escalated. Incidents involving water cannons, collisions, and disruptions to Philippine vessels have sparked concerns.
The objective seems clear: China aims to assert dominance in South China Sea waters claimed by multiple nations, including the Philippines. This campaign of harassment, while not overtly military, has significant repercussions. It impedes humanitarian missions, disrupts shipping, and creates geopolitical tensions.
Moreover, it casts a shadow over the Philippines’ attractiveness as a potential friendshoring destination for global manufacturers seeking alternatives to China. The country’s favorable factors, such as a skilled workforce and proximity to China, lose appeal amidst concerns about uninterrupted supply chains.
The impact is already evident: the Philippines dropped in rankings among friendshoring destinations, facing stiff competition from other countries. Manufacturers prioritize locations with assured port access and smooth transportation routes, making disruptions caused by maritime harassment a significant deterrent.
China’s strategy, while not initially aimed at thwarting friendshoring, is inadvertently achieving this by creating unease among global manufacturers. The situation extends beyond the Philippines, potentially affecting other South China Sea nations aspiring to attract manufacturing operations.
Addressing this harassment becomes crucial for the success of friendshoring initiatives. However, the challenge lies in determining an effective response to non-military aggression. It prompts a pressing question: Who should intervene to ensure the protection of operations and stability in these waters?