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Based on Victor Corpus' Silent War (1989), this paper re-introduces strategic analysis and political geography to the study of nationalist-leftist insurgencies in the Philippines. National geography and changes in the geopolitics of Southeast Asia have, and will continue, to create the strategic context for guerilla wars and the rival end games of Manila and insurgents. In 1898-99 and 1941-45, for example, the geopolitical center of gravity passed over Central Luzon and led to the regime changes desired by insurgents. Since 1945, the geopolitical center of gravity has bypassed Luzon, an external development which has provided a tremendous advantage to counterinsurgents and made it easier for Manila to neutralize the Hukbalahap in the 1950s, and to contain the New People's Army to remote provinces since the 1960s. In the present day, the regional focus of geopolitics has shifted to China and the South China Sea. But an analysis of the current situation based on political geography indicates that China has little reason to invade Central Luzon, even in the event of war over disputed islands. Moreover, communist insurgent zones are not close enough to Manila to force the guerillas into the new strategic considerations of China, the United States, or the Philippines. These factors make it unlikely that China will intervene on behalf of the NPA in the near future.


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18 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • China, Rebalance, and the “Silent War”

  • Journal title
    • International Social Science Review

  • Volume
    • 91

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      John Linantud is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Houston Downtown.