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Cross-Strait Relations or China-Taiwan relations is one of the most complex and controversial issues in today’s international relations. The two entities, while having a shared heritage and language, have very different aspirations for their futures. For China, Taiwan is considered a wayward province that it needs to reunite with, by force if necessary. Taiwan, on the other hand, increasingly considers itself as a sovereign state capable of making sovereign decisions and participating in international affairs.  

Taiwan’s relations with the mainland can often be predicted by the leadership or regime in power. Support for the idea of independence and its proponent -- the incumbent Democratic Progressive party -- has been increasing. On the other hand, the Kuomintang Party, which favors reunification, has been losing the support of the Taiwanese people as evident in the electoral successes of DPP’s Chen Sui-bian (2000-2008) and Tsai Ing-wen more recently.

An Expert Working Group on the South China Sea sponsored by the Center for International and Security Studies has published three “Blueprints” for management of the South China Sea. They include Blueprints for “A South China Sea Code of Conduct; for “Fisheries Management and Environmental Co-operation in the South China Sea”; and for “Co-operation on Oil and Gas Production in the South China Sea.” I have critiqued in detail elsewhere the CSIS “Experts “Blueprint for Co-operation on Oil and Gas Production in the South China Sea.” This is a critique of the other two.

Unlike Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) where Russia had made solid improvements and contributed to deeper economic and political cooperation, the Philippines is viewed to be opposite among its neighbors, in terms of the breadth and depth of bilateral relations with Russia – as the priorities are directed with its long-term ally, the United States. The enduring partnership and alliance between the Philippines and the United States showed reciprocity and gained mutual benefits in the areas of education, military and defense, humanitarian assistance, people-to-people exchanges, and trade. Because of this, some states are reluctant in engaging with the Philippines. This article provides a broader analysis by locating the place of the Philippines in Russia’s geopolitical and economic strategy in the Far East, which encompasses the greater Asia-Pacific region. Possible opportunities and considerations are also included in this article.

United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that US$ 300 Million will be allocated for the Indo-Pacific region, as part of their commitment to advancing regional security. This assistance includes $290.5 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to strengthen maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, and peacekeeping capabilities, and $8.5 million in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds to counter transnational crime. The security assistance funding will cover projects in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and others.