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Assessing political pressure points in Manila’s decision-making in a Taiwan contingency

Issues & Insights Vol. 23, SR11, pp. 43-50


This paper analyzes the Philippines’ three key considerations in determining its involvement in a Taiwan-related contingency: (1) bilateral relationships with Washington and Beijing; (2) geographic proximity to Taiwan; and (3) Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) living in Taiwan. These three factors demonstrate how vulnerable the Philippines is in the event of a Taiwan blockade or invasion. Manila’s Mutual Defense Treaty with Washington could result in its direct involvement. The Philippines’ geography could make the country an immediate victim of conflict spillover, and Beijing could view the evacuation of OFWs with suspicion. After analyzing these three factors, the paper concludes with recommendations for Washington in influencing Philippine decision-making and making the Armed Forces of the Philippines a more capable partner force.

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About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the second U.S.-Philippines Next-Generation Leaders in Security Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Manila. With backgrounds in academia, public policy, civil society and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Philippine relationship.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Thomas Shattuck is the Global Order Program Manager at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House, a member of Foreign Policy for America’s NextGen Foreign Policy Initiative and the Pacific Forum’s Young Leaders Program, as well as a Non-Resident Fellow at the Global Taiwan Institute and the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Photo: Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during the Filipino official’s visit to Taipei in May 2023. Source: Wang Yu Ching / Office of the President of the Republic of China/Creative Commons