The Chinese bombing of the Philippines, referred commonly as the the Sino-Philippine War, was a conflict fought from 1995 to 1996 between the People's Republic of China and the Philippines under the dictatorship of General Artemio Tadiar. It was a sub-conflict of the Spratly Islands War which also saw the sub-conflicts of the Second Sino-Vietnamese War, the Sino-Malayan/Bruneian War, and the Sino-Indonesia War. It marked the first time the Xian H-6K bomber of the People's Liberation Army Air Force was used.
As Vietnam fought a guerilla warfare against the PLA and offered significant resistance, the Philippines was essentially hammered and bombed to oblivion due to the lack of fuel, spare parts, munitions, and anti-air defenses as part of the United Nations sanction and arms embargo to the Tadiar regime. The Philippine Navy and Air Force, woefully under-equipped and hopeless outgunned, were reduced to 1% operational status.
Luzon was continually bombed by the PLAAF, often targeting major cities and farmlands, which resulted in the deaths of 500,000 Filipinos from a combination of the bombs and starvation that followed in the destruction of the farmlands. Manila was targeted as so was Baguio, Cebu, and Kabankalan, the new capital of the Philippines, where the Tadiar regime resides. During the bombing, several historical and natural landmarks were destroyed such as Manila City Hall, the Malacanang Palace, Fort Santiago, Quiapo Church, Batasang Pambansa (Congress), the National Museum, and the Banawe Rice Terraces. It was more destructive than the Battle of Manila fought fifty years prior. Panic eventually gripped the country as it appeared that another foreign power was going to invade the Philippines, thus devolving into riots and chaos with local police forces and emergency services struggling to cope.
War crimes were committed by both sides. For one, the Philippine Marine contingent in the South China Sea surrendered to the PLA and were executed. In retaliation, Tadiar ordered the crew of the captured PLA-N Type 37 corvette Yangjiang (770) to be machine gunned at sea by the Philippine Navy with their bodies fed to the sharks. The Yangjiang was then impounded and later sent to the United States and Japan for research purposes and reverse-engineering.
Foreign embassies based in Metro Manila became the collateral damage of the Chinese bombing. For one, the embassies of Japan, Germany, and Russia suffered casualties, drawing mass condemnations from these countries. As a result, nationalist protests broke out in Japan calling for the revocation of Article 9 in the face of Chinese aggression. This fueled backdoor Japanese support to the Tadiar regime in the form of arms, ammunition, radars, spare parts, and other forms of military hardware that could easily be assembled. The Yakuza and Aum Shinrikyo cult was alleged to have taken part in these backdoor negotiations. Russia deployed several masses of troops, tanks, armored vehicles, and aircraft to the Far East in response to the accidental bombing of its embassy, citing that further attacks would be seen as an act of war.
The war hurt the administration of President Jesse Jackson, who refused to enact the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty which would have saw the United States come into the defense of the Philippines in the scenario of a foreign attack. Jackson abandoned Tadiar due to the current UN sanctions and the brutality of his regime. It would be one of the reasons why Jackson would face an impeachment trial. Reluctantly, Jackson would order the U.S. Navy to come into the defense of Taiwan as the PLA threatened to invade what they call the "renegade province". However the damage had already been done. As a result, Jackson would ultimately loose the 1996 Presidential Elections to Jack Kemp.
- 1 Background
- 2 Conflict Erupts
- 3 Aftermath
- 4 Order of Battle
People Power I
On February 25, 1986, a contingent Philippine Marines accidentally fired their rifles on a group of protesters and Catholic nuns on EDSA. Marcos specifically ordered the troops not to fire on protesters. Anger soon erupted amongst the Filipino people and a result, a coup was launched against Marcos and Corazon C. Aquino took his place as President. Unfortunately, the nation was still divided among the pro-Marcos faction, the pro-Aquino faction, and various third party factions such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the communist New People's Army, and faction lead by Philippine Marine General Artemio Tadiar who saw Aquino's weakness as an obstacle in the country. Tadiar, who initially supported Aquino, would launched a coup against the President. Tadiar would order the arrest of the Aquinos, Gregorio Honasan, and other supporters. He also ordered the execution of NPA chairman Jose Mari Sison, who was scheduled to be granted clemency by the upcoming Aquino administration. Marcos and Imelda were soon executed while the children of the Marcoses were placed under house arrest. Seeing their leader die, the pro-Marcos forces would continue to hold out in the Illocos provinces and the northwest part of Luzon while Aquino-aligned forces managed to hold majority of the county. The purges ordered by Tadiar would set the stage for the Philippine Civil War.
Philippine Civil War (1986-1988)
There were a total of five belligerents in the Philippine Civil War: The Pro-Aquino faction (Yellow Forces), the Pro-Marcos faction, the Tadiar regime, the New People's Army, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The Tadiar-aligned forces would conduct simultaneous offensives throughout the Philippines. The Philippine Air Force would continuously bomb suspected NPA camps in Luzon while also attacking both the Pro-Aquino and Pro-Marcos factions. The Navy was deployed to Visayas, were Tadiar-aligned Marines would launch amphibious invasions of Panay, Samar, Leyte, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, and Camiguin. One-by-one, provinces started to fall to the Tadiar. War crimes were committed by the Tadiar regime. Student activists and journalists with left-leaning ideals were rounded up and machine gunned at sea. Others were summarily executed on the spot and then buried in mass graves.
During the Civil War, the international community tried to mediate a ceasefire to no-avail.
By 1988, Tadiar had claimed victory and turned the country into a military dictatorship. The Philippines was then sanctioned by the United Nations and the European Economic Community for the human rights abuses being committed. The Armed Forces deteriorated as a result of
China Prepares for Expansion
When the People's Republic of China opened up to the West in the late 1970s and the 1980s under Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms, the country aimed to expand economically beyond her shores. Foreign companies and factories opened up in China which greatly boosted up the country's economy and GDP. China at this period was producing goods for the world and was on its way to be a regional power.
China was one of the countries that tried to mediate the situation. The Chinese were pleased with working alongside Corazon Aquino, herself having Chinese descent in which her family could trace her lineage back to Fujian. Ye Fei, a PLA-N commander who was born in the Philippines, was tasked by the Chinese Communist Party to begin a plan on how to work together with the Philippines under Aquino. Ye was sent to the Philippines to mediate their civil war, but the talks eventually broke down.
When the Tadiar regime eventually consolidated power in the Philippines, the Chinese Communist Party saw his regime as a threat to their economic interests in Southeast Asia. Tadiar was known to imprison and execute Chinese-Filipino businessmen, many which had ties to the mainland. Because of this obstacle, Ye Fei began proposing a plan for the rest of the region to fall under the Chinese sphere of influence. Dubbed as the Ye Doctrine, it would involve heavy Chinese investments around strategic waterways and ports. These areas would soon be flooded with Chinese migrant workers. In short, the Ye Doctrine advocated for the slow economic colonization of these special areas. Under this, China aimed to expand her economic reach to the Russian Far East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. First, China had to seize the Spratly Islands. These islands, reefs, and shoals - often seen as irrelevant to the common person - actually holds various resources ranging from food to natural gas. In addition, the Spratly Islands is a major waterway which cargo ships routinely pass to get into the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Unfortunately, the islands had overlapping rival claims from Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. The PLA saw the former three as threat while the latter two as a mere obstacle. As a result, the PLA began constructing more warships meant for expeditionary warfare as well as the Xian H-6K bomber, which could cover majority of the Eastern Pacific.
Following the Tiananmen Square protests and crackdown on June 4, 1989, the United States and the EEC would initiate an arms embargo on China. All Western military technology transfers were suspended. As the 1990s entered, the PLA now had a sizable navy and air force that could project beyond its shores, albeit in a limited capacity.
1990 Luzon Earthquake
On July 16, 1990, a large earthquake hit the island of Luzon, destroying large parts of Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija and Baguio City, Benguet among other provinces. Since the Philippines was under heavy UN sanctions, very few international assistance arrived. Japan did send some assistance as well as those U.S. military forces based in the archipelago. However, construction was slow as the Philippines lacked the equipment to dig out survivors and start rebuilding the damaged areas.
1991 Mount Pinatubo Eruption and the Withdrawal of the United States
On June 15, 1991, the volcano known as Mount Pinatubo in Luzon erupted, sending ashfall to most of the island, the rest of the country, and parts of Asia. The ashfall caused the U.S. Air Base at Clark and the Naval Base at Subic to be evacuated of civilian dependents. Under Operation Fiery Vigil, the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Nimitz evacuated thousands of Americans from Subic. The two carriers docked in Cebu, where the evacuees where then transferred to Mactan Air Base where C-141 transport planes began flying sorties to Guam. The Philippines was soon empty of American forces, save for a few important attaches and engineer battalions assigned to clean-up the ashfall at Clark and Subic. Months later, the Bob Dole administration decided that it would be too costly to repair and continue operating the bases. The official withdrawal of the United States military from the Philippines would occur in 1992. For the first time since the 16th century, there were no foreign military personnel on Philippine soil. The Philippines was essentially defenseless from foreign attack. While this occurred, officials from the Central Military Commission of the People's of Republic of China knew it was the perfect time to strike in a few years.