China is expected to seize control of some of the Philippines’ waterways if a war emerges between Beijing and Washington, former Philippine Armed Forces chief Emmanuel Bautista said.
According to a report on South China Morning Post on Friday, Bautista said the Philippines’ location with routes linking the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean made it a “key terrain.”
Among the routes Bautista identified were the Bashi Channel next to the Batanes and Babuyan Islands near Taiwan and the straits of Mindoro, Cebu, Balabac, San Bernardino and Surigao.
“If you want to influence the South China Sea, you need to control these chokepoints,” Bautista said.
Although China said it would not start a war amid escalating tensions with the United States, Bautista said Beijing was “getting more aggressive” in the disputed sea and its border with India.
“Territorial disputes in the Indo-Pacific are flashpoints that can spark a confrontation between the US and China,” he said.
Bautista said a war between the U.S. and China would “seek to control the country.”
“Assuming [things] get out of hand and result in a shooting war … China will seize the Philippines,” Bautista said.
Moreover, he said China’s militarization and the construction of island bases posed a “direct threat.”