pacific forum History of Pacific Forum

The Geopolitical Nexus of the South China Sea Dispute and Cross-Strait Relations: Strategic Implications for the Philippines-U.S. Alliance

Issues & Insights Vol. 23, SR11, pp. 11-17


The South China Sea (SCS) and Taiwan are potential flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific region. Although the disputes have been ongoing for decades, the strategic competition between the two powers – the United States and China – has added real risk to the overlapping territorial and maritime claims. While there is already a large body of literature on both issues, most analyses on the SCS and Taiwan consider them as two distinct issues. While such an approach is logical and understandable, it is likewise important to explore the linkage between the two issues because they impact each other due to geographical proximity. This paper seeks to answer how can the Philippines-U.S. alliance complement efforts to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific, specifically in the geopolitical nexus of the SCS dispute and cross-Strait relations? This paper also addresses the linkage between the SCS dispute and cross-Strait relations, how such a nexus figures in the overall security of the Indo-Pacific, and how the convergence and divergence of interests in these disputes create policy complexities for Manila and Washington. The aim is to provide policy inputs for courses of action vis-à-vis the challenges the alliance faces amidst great power competition.

Click here to download the full volume.

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.

Mico Galang is a PhD candidate at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), and a member of the Young Leaders Program, Pacific Forum. He is a former researcher at the National Defense College of the Philippines, and a former lecturer UST and De La Salle University. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UST, and graduated from the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a Master’s Degree in International Studies.

Photo: Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) transits the Taiwan Strait during a routine transit near PLA(N) ships, August 28, 2022. Chancellorsville is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stack.