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VOA Asia Weekly: Guam Military Buildup Without Additional Border Resources

VOA Asia Weekly: Guam Military Buildup Without Additional Border Resources
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Chinese leader Xi Jinping concludes Europe visits. Balikatan joint US-Philippines military drills. Taiwan debates tearing down Chiang Kai-shek statues. Southeast Asia's biggest heavy metal music festival.

Alarm over dozens of undocumented Chinese immigrants coming into the strategically important U.S. territory of Guam.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington. That story is coming up, but first, making headlines:

Chinese leader Xi Jinping was given a red-carpet welcome Wednesday in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. He held talks with President Aleksander Vucic. Beijing wants to deepen its political and economic ties with friendlier countries in Europe.

U.S., Australian and Philippine armed forces sank a mock enemy warship using artillery, airstrikes, and high-precision rockets Wednesday. It's part of the annual three-week Balikatan joint military exercises, which end Friday. Several of the drills were set around islands and provinces facing Taiwan and the South China Sea, where Philippine and Chinese vessels have repeatedly clashed.

A Myanmar armed ethnic group called the Arakan Army, says it captured hundreds of Myanmar’s military junta troops in western Rakhine State on Monday. They were part of a military command post.

Taiwanese are engaged in a heated debate about statues of late president Chiang Kai-shek throughout the self-ruled island. In 1949, when Chiang and the Kuomintang lost the civil war in China, they retreated to Taiwan, where he ruled until 1975. Critics blame him for the deaths of thousands and the mass persecution of political opponents. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party wants to get rid of all the statues, but fewer than 200 have been removed over the past eight years.

TikTok filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging a law signed by U.S. President Joe Biden. The measure would ban the short-video social media app if it’s not sold by its Chinese owners. The company argues the bill violates First Amendment free speech protections.

U.S. lawmakers last year called for an investigation into 100 incidents of Chinese nationals attempting to enter military bases and other sensitive sites. Now officials on the island of Guam – which hosts some of the most strategically important U.S. bases in the Pacific – are asking for help in protecting their shores. VOA’s Jessica Stone reports.

Construction crews are hard at work on the strategic U.S. territory of Guam. By 2028, Washington will spend $9 billion to relocate U.S. Marines from Japan, build an integrated missile defense system, and add command functions for the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Guam is the closest U.S. territory to Asia, and its military installations form a critical component of American defense strategy in the Pacific.

“So as our buildup happens, the Chinese are trying to hold it at risk through new capabilities and we're responding with, with more missile defense.”

More missile defense but not additional border defense. A Guam Customs spokesperson tells VOA, the agency has 140 officers to enforce immigration and customs with no additional staff to patrol the 125 kilometers of shorelines.

Since 2022 at least 188 undocumented Chinese migrants have been caught entering Guam Illegally. While almost all come to find jobs or file for asylum, Guam delegate James Moylan says the fact that they’re getting in is cause for concern.

“Guam is so strategically important. We're so small, we should be able to control our borders and illegal Chinese migrants from coming in.”

Moylan wants Congress to allocate an additional 5 million dollars for more immigration agents. He also wants Washington to close a program allowing Chinese nationals to come visa-free to Guam’s neighboring island – Saipan.

Asian American advocates caution against racially profiling those of Chinese heritage.

“I think the issue of stereotyping and over-inclusiveness into certain definitions of who may migrate, who can buy property, who are subjected to these regulatory attempts is a cause for concern.”

But Schriver says Guam’s role in U.S. national security is too important, and issues like border security must be part of the conversation.

"Guam would be critical in virtually any contingency in the western Pacific.”

Schriver says the cost of not being concerned – could be a breach of national security or the security of US allies.

Jessica Stone, VOA News.

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

Finally, Indonesia is home to Hammersonic, Southeast Asia’s biggest annual heavy metal music festival.

This year’s concerts drew 55 bands from around the world and about 38,000 fans.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.