Two Compelling Reasons Duterte Will Not Change His Pro-China StancePosted: October 30, 2016
SCMP carried its senior editor and China affairs columnist Cary Huang’s article titled “Four reasons Duterte will have to change tune on China and U.S.” specifying the following reasons:
1. The US-Philippines relationship has been strong for the nearly 70 years.
Sorry! Cary Huang forgets that the Philippines drove US troops away by taking back US military bases in the Philippines during the 70 years. I said in my post “South China Sea Disputes: Lucky China; Unlucky Philippines” on June 21, 2013:
Luckily, the Philippines drove away the US and took back the bases to deprive the US of the obligations to spend lots of money for the defense of the Philippines. At that time, we were really very happy about that as we were worried that US presence would make it very difficult for China to maintain its sovereignty to the islands, reefs and sea areas given that it took time for China to develop its navy.
Luckily for China, Filipino navy tried to drive away Chinese fishermen and provided China with the excuse to drive away Filipino fishermen. China is thus very lucky to gain complete control of Scarborough Shoal peacefully.
Why peacefully? The US did not send its navy to interfere as the 70-year relationship was not so strong!
2. The US ranks the third in Philippines’ foreign trade and Filipinos make lots of money in the US and sent back US$17.6 billion last year.
Duterte does not want to cut Philippines’ economic relations with the US; therefore, the trade relations and remittance will not change Duterte’s pro-China stance.
Moreover, the trade benefits not only the Philippines but also the US. The US is no longer a mentor in its foreign trade given the huge foreign exchange deficit in US foreign trade.
As for the US$17.6 billion that Filipinos working in the US sent back last year. Cary Huang perhaps mistakes the money as US donations. No, it had been earned by Filipinos through working hard for and making contributions to US economy and welfare. Do not forget that the US benefits from the Filipinos’ work.
3. Filipinos are overwhelmingly pro-American.
However, they have elected a pro-China and anti-American president and the president has been working to benefit the Philippines through improvement of relations with China.
4. Filipinos are also known for their patriotic passion and will not give up its territorial claims in its dispute with China.
While Duterte does not give up the claims, China does not force Duterte to accept its claims. China has set no preconditions in providing loans and investment to the Philippines. What China wants is to put aside the disputes over sovereignty as it is very difficult to resolve the disputes in a short time but the two sides may conduct cooperation in exploiting the resources in the disputed waters.
Cary Huang concludes, “The effect of the July 12 ruling by the international tribunal in The Hague will be felt in years to come. And that ruling – which the court stated as final and binding – will stand in the way of the Philippines-China relationship, regardless of the rhetoric.”
Sorry, no one is able to enforce the ruling that China has rejected.
Cary Huang is perhaps ignorant that diplomacy is driven by interests; therefore, there are the following two compelling reasons that Duterte will not change his pro-China stance:
1. The US will not fight to protect the Philippines’ interests in the South China Sea. It will not use its force to enforce the ruling in favor of the Philippines. If the Philippines does not cooperate with China in exploiting the resources in the disputed waters, the resources will entirely be exploited by China.
Shall the Philippines wait till the US has grown strong enough militarily and willing enough to help it enforce the ruling when the natural resources have entirely been taken away by China?
What is the use in enforcing the ruling when the resources have dried up?
Duterte is wise in improving ties with China to get a share of the resources.
2. The Philippines urgently needs Chinese loans and investment for construction of its infrastructures and developing its economy while the US is hard up and unable to give the Philippines any significant help.
As for Duterte’s angry words against the US, it is due to US opposition to his anti-drug campaign instead of his pro-China stance though the stance upsets the US.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2041077/four-reasons-duterte-will-have-change-tune-china-and-us