Chinese Invasion of the Philippines
Part of Asia-Pacific Front of World War III
Chinese-Filipino War collage
From left to right clockwise: U.S. Marine Smokey Sam firing on Chinese jets, Chinese anti-tank soldiers in La Union, Philippine government AIFV in Olongapo, U.S. Air Force F-16 engaging PLAAF above Baguio City, PLAN Landing Craft off the coast of Zambales, Philippine Army soldiers taking cover behind APC in Cavite
Date March 1990-April 1990
Location The Philippines: Mainly in Zambales, Pangasinan, La Union, Bataan, Cavite, the Batanes Islands, and Spratly Islands
Result U.S.-Philippine Tactical Victory/Chinese Tactical Failure
  • Invasion fails to capture Manila
  • U.S. and Philippine forces manage to repel the Chinese invasion.
Flag of the United StatesUnited States

Flag of the Philippines (navy blue)Philippines
Flag of the Republic of ChinaTaiwan
Supported by:
Flag of BruneiBrunei
Flag of JapanJapan
Flag of MalaysiaMalaysia

Flag of the People's Republic of China China

Flag of the Soviet UnionSoviet Union
(limited naval support)

Communist Party of the Philippines

  • NDF Flag NDF
  • New NPA flag NPA
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the United StatesGeorge H.W. Bush

Flag of the Philippines (navy blue)Corazon C. Aquino
Flag of the Republic of ChinaLee Teng Hui

Flag of the People's Republic of ChinaLi Peng

Flag of the People's Republic of ChinaYang Shangkun

Armed Forces of the Philippines
  • Philippine Army
  • Philippine Air Force
  • Philippine Navy
  • Philippine Marine Corps
  • Philippine Constabulary

United States Armed Forces

  • U.S. Navy
  • U.S. Marine Corps
  • U.S. Air Force

Republic of China Armed Forces

  • ROC Navy
  • ROC Air Force

Filipino Resistance (composed of civilians and law enforcement personnel)

People's Liberation Army
  • PLAN
    • East Sea Fleet
    • PLA Marine Corps

Soviet Armed Forces

  • Soviet Air Force
Casualties and losses
  • 1,500 troops killed
  • 30 APCs
  • 3 AIFVs
  • 15 F-5
  • 3 patrol boats

Resistance: 600 figthers reported killed
United States

  • 800 troops killed
  • 13 F-16s
  • 8 F-15s
  • 2 destroyers
  • 1 patrol boat
  • 4000 troops KIA
  • 15 Landing craft
  • 2 Luda Class destroyer
  • 1 submarine
  • 90 aircraft shot down

Soviet Union:

  • 1 destroyer crippled
  • 3 destroyers capsized

The Invasion of the Philippines, also called as the Chinese Invasion of the Philippines, Philippines Campaign of 1990, Sino-Philippine War, or the Filipino-Chinese War, was a limited invasion of the Philippines conducted by the People's Liberation Army Navy in order to distract U.S. Forces in South Korea and at home fighting the Soviets in Alaska and Washington. The invasion was done in a similar style like what the Chinese did in Vietnam in 1979.


The Philippines served as a strategic area for the United States to exert its naval and air forces in the Asia-Pacific Region, along with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. During the Cold War, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces had their largest concentration of warplanes at Clark Air Base, Pampanga. Subic Naval Base, a major U.S. Navy located in the Philippines, saw extensive use during the Vietnam War. In addition to Clark and Subic, there was Wallace Air Station, Naval Air Station Cubi Point, Camp John Hay, and various communication outposts used by the U.S. military. The presence of American forces in the Philippines served to deter the Soviets and their allies in the region.

Throughout the 1980s, there was some minor anti-American sentiment within the Filipino people over some misdeeds of American servicemen. During the 1989 Coup Attempt, the U.S. airbases in the country as well as the presence of USS Enterprise in Manila Bay was essential in quelling the coup.

The lease for using the military bases is expected to end in 2047, after the 99-year lease signed in 1948.

The Battle

In this campaign, the Chinese South Sea Fleet attacked and occupied several Philippine-claimed islands in the South China Sea. The next day, portions of the South Sea Fleet arrived off the coast of Zambales and mounted an amphibious assault of 5,000 troops. An aerial attack on U.S. bases in the country followed using captured Taiwanese air bases. While initially successful in causing some U.S. assets such as ships and aircraft, the Chinese soon suffered heavy losses from attacks by both Philippines and U.S. forces, as well as the Filipino citizens who poised a heavy resistance to the Chinese. The Chinese were able to occupy some towns and villages around Manila, but were never able to reach the capital due to the combined resistance poised by the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and the Police (including the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police). Special forces like the Army's Scout Rangers, the Navy's Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG), and the PC/INP's SWAT and Special Action Force (SAF) were put into action in attacking behind enemy lines. Other auxiliary forces such as ROTC cadets and the paramilitary branch of the AFP, the Civilian Forces Geographic Armed Units (CAFGU) were integrated into the regular Army. After a month of the invasion, it was deemed to costly as the Chinese prepared to retreat back to China. Over 4,000 Chinese troops were killed and the rest were captured as POWs.

Although not affiliated with the Chinese, the NPA-NDF continued attacking towns and villages throughout the archipelago. They took advantage of the Chinese invasion as the time to "liberate" the islands in a "glorious revolution." This put a headache on the Philippine government as more of its forces were engaging Chinese troops and Soviet naval and aerial forces. However, since the PLA only concentrated its efforts around Manila and the U.S. military bases, the other Filipino troops were able to focus in counterinsurgency against the NPA, particularly in Visayas and Mindanao. The CAFGU and other right-wing vigilante groups mainly took care of the NPA.


Although the Chinese failed to capitulate the Allied forces in the Philippines, it was somehow a political disaster for President Aquino. The invasion took place just a mere three months after the 1989 Philippine Coup Attempt led by Gregorio Honasan. The coup was only subdued when naval aviation forces from the United States Navy intervened on the side of the government. Since the Philippines was once again invaded almost four decades after the Japanese, some Filipinos took to the streets to protest against the war. Others protested to the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Clark Air Base, Subic Naval Base, Camp John Hay, and Wallace Air Station, demanding the pulling out of U.S. troops. The protestors stated that the presence of American military assets caused the Philippines to be targeted by the communist forces.

In the rural areas, government forces renewed their crackdown to the communist dissidents. They were aided by vigilante groups and right-wing paramilitary organizations.

1990 Earthquake

On July 16, 1990, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Luzon. The shock had a surface wave magnitude of 7.8 and produced a 125 km-long ground rupture that stretched from Dingalan, Aurora to Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija. The event was a result of strike-slip movements along the Philippine Fault and the Digdig Fault within the Philippine Fault System. The earthquake's epicenter was near the town of Rizal, Nueva Ecija, northeast of Cabanatuan City. An estimated 1,621 people were killed, most of the fatalities located in Central Luzon and the Cordillera region. This put further strain on government efforts of reconstructing the war-torn areas. Philippine and American troops were deployed to the affected areas. PLA POWs were also told to help in the efforts, in exchange for their freedom.

Mt. Pinatubo Explosion

A year later, Mt. Pinatubo erupted, forcing the evacuation of American dependents of U.S. troops from Clark AB and Subic Naval Base. The aircraft carriers USS Midway and USS Abraham Lincoln, having previously served in the Asia-Pacific Theatre of World War III, were used as the means of transport for the evacuees, stopping by at Cebu City. Once again, U.S. forces would help in the relief and recovery of the affected areas, alongside Philippine troops and PLA Prisoners of War. When it was cleared months later, their was a discussion in the Philippine Senate to agree that U.S. troops stay in the country. The vote was made in which U.S. troops would stay for another 99 years, massively as a token of gratitude of the Filipinos for American help during the Third World War, the 1990 earthquake, and the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.

Re-establishment of Diplomatic Ties

The Philippines established official ties with the Chinese Federated Union in 1995. As per the agreement on the treatment of PLA prisoners-of-war, they were returned to the newly, democratic China after their assistance provided during the 1990 Luzon earthquake and the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption. The CFU would later emerge as a friend of ASEAN, Japan, Africa, and the West.