Two Compelling Reasons Duterte Will Not Change His Pro-China Stance

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool

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

9 Comments on “Two Compelling Reasons Duterte Will Not Change His Pro-China Stance”

  1. johnleecan says:

    Filipinos are not known for their patriotic passion. Make the Philippines the 51st state of American and Filipinos will overwhelmingly accept and jump crazy with joy. There will be an exodus of Filipinos going to USA. Male Americans will soon be overjoyed because many female Filipinos will now be available to them. Those Filipinos who are saying they are patriotic will soon be proud of calling themselves American.

    Filipinos are famous for their kleptomania. They can’t control picking up something not theirs and pocketing it, even for a cheap thing like a ballpen. Many rich and poor alike steal if they can get away with it. They will insist what they stole is theirs. They aren’t afraid you know they are stealing, what they fear is you have proof or catch them in the act. So for the islands, they won’t give it up what they stole.


  2. Joseph says:

    If this Cary Huang is a bonafide writer, she should have the courage to tell her ‘four reason’ to Duterte in person. And she should be prepared to face his barrage of fiery response as well. As I recall, he does not like to be told what to do that he even told Obama to ‘go to hell’ for telling him what to do. And gone was Obama’s only chance to leave office with Phillipines on American good terms. It is easy to be paid to write a bunch of craps, than to rule a country properly. For one, a responsible leader should listen and get the support of his own people, not a third-rate political fiction writer from Hongkong. If Cary Huang lives in Philippines, she would have miserable failed to notice how widespread anti-American rally on Philippines. I heard there’s even fatalities on rallies outide US compounds. She surely does not notice it from his provided writing material in Hongkong, when she implied that majority of Philippines people support the American. I don’t really know where the figure $17.6 billion was coming from, but Indonesian unskilled maids working overseas generated two times as much. Not that it is not a large figure, that Indonesian president has instructed to scrap the industry as it is too undignified. Obviously Cary Huang does not really know how little $17.6 billion really means for an national economy, it is really an insulting bargain price to sell the soul of the nation. Was this why Obama brought along the Phillipines born Glee actress when he went to Phillipines last year? To work cheaply on Hollywood? This Cary Huang remind me of another Hongkong writer, who glorified the ‘assistance’ of American aircraft carrier on 2004 Tsunami in Indonesia, in which she wrote of how ‘mighty’ the American carrier’s capabilities to help the crisis. The only fact that she did not mention was, the carrier was two months late, the crisis was over and the international volunteers had mostly go home. In the end, the Indonesian government unceremoniously asked the carrier to leave, rather than prowling tbe area and disturbing local port activities with their ‘security’ measures. This is what we call ‘overslept hero’.


  3. Sherlock says:

    Why are there so many pro American or rather, CIA assets in SCMP? Is Cary Huang one of them?


  4. Steve says:

    China has not lost anything, but everything to gain. Foreign diplomacy among sovereign countries should never be terminated because the people will suffer. Why should China impose sovereignty on another nation. These are early days and President Duterte has to diversify his nation’s investments with several nations. Duterte knows that within the Asia Pacific rim, only China and Japan are his country’s best partners.

    In fact, on a merry go round, only China has the capacity to spin his country’s economic woes into prosperity. Philippines has overwhelming problems in domestic security, infrastructure investments in transport, education, health, military, agriculture, maritime security and so on.

    I cannot think of any superpower country eager to invade Philippines on the pretext of WMD, democracy, economy like oil fields, etc. There is nothing. In fact, Philippines don’t need any military alliance with US, other than for US interest. Philippines as an independent and sovereign country can guide it’s own destiny.


  5. Steve says:

    Excellent Commentary – True, Cary Huang was misguided, but how did she missed it by a country mile. Political enemies now can become diplomatic alliances due to political interest. Japan/US good example. Political alliances can turn sour just like Vietnam/China.

    However, President Duterte did hoodwink his people when he said he will jet ski to China’s island and plant the Filipino flag, but neglected telling his people that he had the intention to jet ski All the way to Beijing to seek economic investments and loans for his impoverished nation.
    For 70 years Filipinos has being seduced by American pop culture, hippy hard rock, coca-cola, cigarettes, bourbon and freedom of just about everything. Duterte is aware that Filipinos are too dependent on the US alliance, lacking the power of a state to govern itself without foreign intervention, engaging in commerce with foreign nations (China) and so on.

    China holds the SCS trump card in exploration and exploitation of natural resources and historical rights to its nine dash line, but willing to negotiate for an amicable solution. China is in an enviable position to give, share and take less. The diplomatic door to a formidable working alliance between China and Philippines should Not close, both nations have to take this golden opportunity to truly thrash out the differences and consolidate a partnership. Once a working relationship has being established, getting Vietnam on board is just a stepping stone.


    • James says:

      Well articulated.
      China understands that it’s better to share the riches of SCS with nations that border this vast expense of waters. There is enough to go around. Better to be a big powerful country that’s generous rather than a hegemon that sees greed and everything as a zero sum game. China wants to creat stability within its borders so that all nations around can live in peace and prosper together. If China is smart about its strategy, it should use Philippines as a show case to others in SEA
      1) China’s immense financial and technical capacity to improve the economic position of millions. Only when ppl see tangible benefit to their lives can there be a chance to turn mental attitude around. Pinoys have been subjugated for almost 500 years by colonial rule. It takes time and changes in the coal face to turn attitude around.

      2) The irrelevance of US presence in this part of Asia. Peace and stability via the Korean and Vietnam wars. Lol What have the US done for Philippines during the past 70 years? 4 million drug addicts? Philippines does not need the US cos the US cannot help. Only China can. Duderte knows it.

      There are only 2 aggressors in this part of Asia during the past 100 years? US and Japan.
      People should remember this… there will be an accounting in due time.


      • Steve says:

        Excellent Reply – US and Japan waged genocidal wars in Asia, both are now inseparable genocidal twins. It’s imperative that China and Philippines need to consolidate this diplomatic partnership. It’s a Gift that China must reciprocate in kind. President Duterte’s pivot to China was upgraded to a state visit, something good must be brewing across the SCS.


  6. Simon says:

    So far all we got from Dutert is empty rhetoric. Until he actually close American military bases in his country and commit to proper alliance with China his words count for nothing. China must ask Duterte to accept Chinese soverienty as a cornerstone of shift if relations to Beijing or the highway. China has all the cards but is refusing to play it.

    For example the Phillipines had not even offered to remove their rusting ship they deliberately ran aground to claim the Second Thomas Shoal from China. Durtert offered China nothing apart from his rants against Washington who is also quick to dismiss him purely because no action to sever military ties was even made and America continue to enjoy its activities in the Phillipines to contain China.

    Let not forget Duterte is 71yrs old, even if he initiated any moves to seperate his country from America it will take years to implement the move and it will be down to his successor to oversee that and somehow nobody will guarantee the next Filipino president will still be pro China. Dutert knows he will not be in office to oversee such move so it is easy for him to make remarks that he knows will never be met while all the time he can gain concessions from China and undermine Chinese sovereignty.