TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Retired Philippine Rear Admiral Rommel Jude Ong said Taiwan is at the core of the first island chain, making its participation in joint military exercises with Japan and the Philippines not an option but a necessity.
Ong said the security of Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines is inextricably linked and that it will be impossible to resist China’s continued expansion into the waters that lie between them unless the three join hands and work together, according to a VOA report.
Ong said he doubts the U.S. could single-handedly resist China's expansion, therefore countries in the region must join together to ensure the integrity of the single island chain. The retired admiral called on Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines to establish mechanisms for joint maritime military cooperation that could facilitate an integrated strategy.
He said the Bashi Strait is the most critical area for the Philippines, whereas the waters around the Diaoyutai (Senkaku) Islands are vital for Japan. Taiwan is the central link that holds the first island chain together, thus its participation in joint exercises is of the utmost importance, he said.
Wang Chun-yan (王尊彥), a scholar at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research Academy, pointed out that Japan and the Philippines have held joint military and naval exercises in the past. He said he agrees maintaining a high level of connectivity with the other two countries' security sectors is of great importance to Taiwan and that it is also conducive to the stability of Japan and the Philippines.
The first island chain refers to the first chain of major archipelagos that are positioned east of the East Asian continental coast. Besides Taiwan, it includes the Kuril Islands, the Japanese Archipelago, the Ryukyu Islands, the northern Philippines, and Borneo. In its entirety, it extends all the way from the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far northeast to the Malay Peninsula in the southwest.
U.S. foreign policy doctrine includes two other island chains beyond the first island chain. The other two island chains are located further east, at varying degrees of longitude in the Pacific Ocean.