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Philippines a 'middle power’ in Asia —Lowy Institute index

The Philippines was ranked as a “middle power” in Asia after placing 16th out of 26 countries for comprehensive power, according to the 2023 Lowy Institute Asia Power Index.

The research said the Philippines had an overall score of 12.8 out of 100. However, its overall score declined by 0.4 points compared to 2021.

The Asia Power Index said the country’s strongest measure was “defense networks” where it placed 9th, “reflecting the extent of its bilateral military cooperation with treaty ally the United States (US).”

At the same time, it reported that the Philippines’ weakest measure was “resilience” after it ranked 20th due to a result of “internal conflict legacies.”

The country’s military capability climbed by two places to 17th over the past year, according to the Asia Power Index.

“The Philippines exerts more influence in the region than expected given its available resources, as indicated by the country’s positive power gap score. Its positive power remained roughly the same as in the previous edition,” it said.

The annual Asia Power Index was launched by Lowy Institute, an independent and non-partisan international policy think tank in Australia, which measured the resources and influence to rank the relative power of states in Asia.

The index ranked at least 26 countries and territories in terms of their capacity to shape their external environment, as “its scope reaching as far west as Pakistan, as far north as Russia, and as far into the Pacific as Australia, New Zealand, and US.”

The 2023 edition — which covers five years of data up to 2022 — is the most comprehensive assessment of the changing distribution of power in Asia to date, the group said.

The project evaluates international power in Asia through 133 indicators across eight thematic measures: Military Capability and Defense Networks, Economic Capability and Relationships, Diplomatic and Cultural Influence, as well as Resilience and Future Resources.

The US garnered the first spot with a score of 80.7, followed by China with 72.5, Japan with 37.2, India with 36.3, Russia with 31.6, Australia with 30.9, South Korea with 29.5, Singapore with 25.1, Indonesia with 19.4, and Thailand with 18.7.

Among other nations at the bottom list are Myanmar with 7.5, Laos with 6.4, Mongolia with 5, Nepal with 4.2, and Papua New Guinea with 3.3.

Among the key findings are:

-China’s isolation exacted a heavy toll on its standing in 2022 but the country emerges more militarily capable than ever. 

According to the research, an important explanation for China’s military posturing may be that "while it remains less powerful than the United States, its relative lead over its neighbours — including India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines — continues to grow."

-The United States remains on top of the Asia Power Index due largely to China’s setbacks.

This showed the US defense networks as an advantage in Asia, and that the Biden administration has stepped up defense diplomacy with nations in the region.

"The reaffirmation of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines in 2021 enabled a larger number of combined trainings than in previous years," the research said.

-The patchy power: India makes an uneven strategic contribution to the regional balance.  This is manifested by India's security ties with its neighbors such as its agreement to sell BrahMos anti-ship missiles to the Philippines.—LDF, GMA Integrated News