US presence in the South china Sea may be overshadowed if the Philippines goes through with its plan of conducting joint Military Drills with China. The news came early this week when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte publicly announced his desire to cement ties with China militarily.

What does Duterte aim to accomplish with an alliance with China?

Duterte has been trying to warm up to China, especially during Obama's administration where he was condemned for the alleged extrajudicial killings in his country. The Philippine government, through its president's initiative, have commenced an all-out war against drugs, which resulted in thousands of drug-related killings in the country.

Human rights advocates coupled with Obama's incessant attack on the state of the Philippine drug war forced Duterte to practically denounce ties with the US and even called Obama a "son of a whore." After this diplomatic breakdown, Duterte pivoted to China and is slowly gaining the support of its large Asian neighbor.

Will China take Duterte's offer of joint military drills in the Philippines?

China is at the moment slowly improving its military and air force. This is due to the massive disparity of technological advancement between China and countries like South Korea and Japan. They have started a serious overhaul of the military structure and began a rigorous retraining of its air force personnel.

A joint military drill to improve its military and a willing nation, like the Philippines, to host such an event is an excellent opportunity. However, many critics of the Philippine president say that congress should first approve a visiting forces agreement before formal drills can commence.

At the moment, the Philippines is bound by an agreement with the United States, which effectively stalls Duterte's plan.

Unless this agreement is amended or rescinded, the Chinese-Philippine joint drills will remain a suggestion.

Why is Philippine's pivot to China worrisome for the US?

the US and the Philippines have long been in an alliance since the end of World War II. The sharing of information and technology are continuous between the two nations.

A sudden breakdown of diplomacy between the US and the Philippines and allowing it to be absorbed by China's influence would mean China's immediate access to US secret agreements with the Philippine government.

The US also works actively with the Philippines in the fight against terrorism and some operatives are given passes especially by the previous administration to operate in the country. A sudden Philippine pivot to China could mean the end of American influence in South East Asia.