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New Philippine Military Head Signals China Focus

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., (L) listens to army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. (2nd R) during the 126th founding anniversary of the Philippine army at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig city, suburban Manila on March 22, 2023. Ted ALJIBE / AFP

The Philippine government announced that its new military chief will be Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., the former head of its army. Brawner’s appointment seems to strengthen the Marcos administration’s hardening towards China in relation to territorial disputes in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea.

In February, Brawner (a veteran of anti-insurgency efforts within the Philippines) said China’s ongoing pressure in the disputed maritime zone has caused a rethink of its national security strategy from fighting domestic terrorism to external threats.

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