Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte has shocked the world by restoring the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with America last Friday, 30th July 2021. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana formally announced the decision in a joint press conference after their meeting at Camp Aguinaldo military base in Manila. The VFA is a military agreement between both countries that makes it easier for the US forces to move in and out the Philippines. Restoration of the VFA is being considered a big move in the region and a signal to China of a renewed commitment to the 70-year-old US-Philippine alliance. The VFA was originally signed in 1988 to give US military aircraft and vessels free entry into the Philippines and relaxes visa restrictions for US military personnel. It is seen as important to Washington being able to act to protect the Philippines under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the two nations. Reuters has reported that “Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had previously vowed to terminate the agreement, but had repeatedly pushed back the expiration date, maintaining it until the end of this year.” President Duterte vowed in particular to terminate the pact after the United States denied a visa to his blue-eyed senator. But, in June, he extended the pact till the end of the year, and has fully restored the agreement after his meeting with the visiting US Defense Secretary last Friday. Strangely, Philippine’s Secretary Defense was not part of the decision but only for the press conference. This decision is being considered in the context of the South China Sea conflict between China and the Philippines that has to deepen further, given the heavy presence of the US marines and contingents in the conflict zone. The fully restored VFA will allow the US forces to use freely and frequently the two designated airbases on the land of the Philippines. Reinvigoration of this strategic alliance is certainly to dent China’s military and economic strength by deepening the crisis in the South China Sea. The probability of hot pursuits in the region has increased manifolds with the VFA restoration where the US would have the opportunity to directly support Philippine against China. The VFA restoration is expected to revive the historic US-Philippine ties including the two of America’s largest military bases outside of the US. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin believes that “a strong, resilient US-Philippine alliance will remain vital to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific. A fully restored VFA will help us achieve that goal together.” The US goal at the moment is well-defined and evidently known, and that is none other than to curtail the military and economic power of China. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), in particular, has become a bone of contention rather than becoming a big economic threat for the US and its hardcore allies. The US and its allies are taking up all initiatives that would somehow control the assertiveness of China instead of taking up some effective and immediate economic and development plans. The VFA restoration is expected to revive the historic US-Philippine ties including the two of America’s largest military bases outside of the US: Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station. The CNN has reported that “although those ceased to be US bases in the early 1990s, US forces still had access to them under the VFA and Manila maintained strong military ties with Washington. A US Navy landing craft brings US Marines ashore at the Naval Education Training Center, Philippines in a 2019 exercise.” Over the past few years, President Duterte has tilted away from the US and leaned towards China, which has offered a closer economic relationship with Manila. He explicitly had mentioned that he needed China more than anybody else at the point before flying to Beijing in April 2018. The Philippine President’s overtures to Beijing came with the two countries locked in an ongoing dispute over their competing claims in the South China Sea. A tribunal in The Hague, in 2016, has ruled in favour of the Philippines in a maritime dispute concluding China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea. Despite the aforementioned information, the bilateral relations between the Philippine and China have been improving on mutual strategic and economic interests. The US has needed another front to engage its forces and arms after leaving Afghanistan in the dark and obscure situation after two decades of fighting a war against its own created menaces, and losing against them. Philippine has provided the urgently needed space to the US that would not be in their national interests at the time when they are facing many challenges at home including the rising movement of human rights, economic crisis and strategic instability. One intentional or unintentional fiddling by the US against the Chinese forces or interests in the region would lead to a disaster in the region for many years to come. The US is desperately looking for one such chance against China at the cost of someone. In this case, Philippine will be the extreme sufferer having too many challenges already at home front. The writer is a freelance journalist and a broadcaster. He is Director (Devcom-Pakistan). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @EmmayeSyed.