THE United States and the Philippines have expressed alarm over China’s recent move.
On Wednesday, China announced a 12.2 percent increase in its military spending, amounting to $132 billion — “likely a considerable underestimate of actual spending, but still far less than the $600.4 billion the US spent last year,” reports the Associated Press.
US Pacific Commander Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III told the House Armed Services Committee “that there has been a slow and steady growth in the US-China military relationship, and that the US wants China to provide a positive contribution to regional security. But he said China’s recent activities were calling into question how it will proceed,” AP further reported.
“What’s frustrating is what’s happening in their own backyard as it relates to their relations with some of our allies,” Locklear said. He cited China’s “ambiguous” territorial claims in the South China Sea and the country’s declaration of an air defense information zone over the East China Sea, which encompasses airspace above Japan-controlled islands — a territory also being claimed by China.
“This all complicates the security environment and makes us wonder,” Locklear said.
Locklear said that there is no doubt about the rise of the Chinese military. However, he questions its transparency and purpose, and if such a move adheres to “the larger security environment with neighbors.”
According to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the US has been urging greater transparency from China, at the same time “encouraging it to use its military capabilities for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific,” says AP.
Also on Wednesday, the US House and Senate committees questioned US military commanders regarding budget requests for 2015, with tensions between China and its neighboring countries in East and Southeast Asia, and the crisis in Ukraine on top of mind.
According to AP, members of Congress have expressed concern over the Obama administration’s plans “to develop a smaller, more modern military force,” surmising that “it could weaken US capabilities in a period of growing uncertainty in Europe and Asia.”
Though acknowledging maintaining naval presence would be difficult, Locklear was still confident that China is incapable of threatening the paramount-ranking US global military.
However, he expressed concern over China’s beefing up of its military capabilities, which would most likely impede the US from protecting its allies in the region.
Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas is asking the Philippine government to devise a national emergency plan and prepare for a worst-case scenario.
“With Russia’s intrusion in the Crimea, China could be emboldened to do same in the South China Sea, and there is nothing the Philippines can do if and when the world’s biggest army would decide to take over disputed islands, including Kalayaan and the Bajo de Masinloc, by force,” he said.
“The crisis in Ukraine could become a trigger point for a bigger conflict, and while we don’t want to sound like an alarmist, there is no harm if we prepare our people on what to do in the event of a full blown armed conflict,” he added.
Treñas further suggested the following: that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) come up with community-based “disaster response” units for emergency situations; and that the  Armed Forces Reserve Command “should have a solid inventory and adequate training for reserve forces so they can easily be mobilized when the need arises,” as reported by
“Our nation is weak not only because our armed forces is ill-equipped, but also because our people have become too complacent that we have forgotten that we have a duty to defend our sovereignty.”
“If we are prepared, no amount of typhoon, earthquake or even foreign invasion can bring us down.”
“We can definitely rise up and fight back to defend our nation,” he further said.
While the United States has vowed to protect its Asian allies,  it is imperative for the Philippines to prepare itself for a worst-case scenario and come up with its own means to defend itself.
As Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

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