Philippines and China hold ‘friendly and candid’ talks on South China Sea


Reuters

May 22, 2021 4:13 PM HKT

The Philippines and China held “friendly and candid” talks on the South China Sea, the Philippines’ foreign ministry said on Saturday, days after the minister ordered Chinese vessels out of the disputed waterway in an expletive-laced tweet.

The presence of hundreds Chinese vessels inside the Philippines 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has been the latest source of tensions between the two countries in the South China Sea, through which $3 trillion worth of goods pass every year.

The Philippines said the encroaching vessels were manned by militia, while Beijing said they were fishing boats sheltering from bad weather.

“The two sides had friendly and candid exchanges on the general situation and specific issues of concern in the South China Sea,” under a bilateral consultation mechanism convened in 2016 to ease tensions in the strategic waterway, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

“There was mutual recognition of the importance of dialogue in easing tensions and understanding each country’s position and intentions in the area,” the DFA said.

Earlier this month, Philippines Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin likened China to “an ugly oaf” for its behaviour in the waterway.

“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE FUCK OUT,” Locsin tweeted on his personal account.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who prefers to not provoke Beijing and wants to tap it for loans and investment, barred his ministers from talking about the South China Sea situation in public after the outburst.

Also discussed during Friday’s dialogue was the row over the June 2019 sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese fishing vessel that abandoned the Filipino fishermen in the South China Sea. The Philippine justice ministry will seek compensation for the victims, the DFA said.

Despite recent tensions, ties between the Philippines and China have improved under Duterte, who described the 2016 arbitration ruling on the South China Sea that went in Philippines’ favour as just a “piece of paper” he could throw in the trash.

But the Philippines reiterated its call on Beijing to respect international law, including the arbitral ruling during the talks, the DFA said.

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Duterte’s Wise Dealing with South China Sea Dilemma


It’s really very difficult to be the president of a poor and weak country with a proud people, especially a country in the middle of the contest between two great powers China and the US.

Philippine people want Philippine President Duterte to be strong in enforcing the Hague arbitration ruling to safeguard Philippine rights and interests in the disputed waters in the South China Sea, but without US military help, Duterte is unable to enforce the ruling. Duterte is very clear the US will not fight a costly war with China for the Philippines. Therefore, he is in a dilemma what to do.

When former US President Obama began his pivot to Asian to contain China’s rise, Duterte’s predecessor Aquino wrongly believed that the US might perform its treaty obligations to protect the Philippines in its territorial disputes with China. At that time, China maintained a low profile in the world that caused Aquino to commit the blunder to start the Scarborough standoff to drive China away from the Scarborough Shoal. China responded with strong defense of its core interests there.

The US, however, failed to help Aquino counter China. As a result, the Philippines instead of China was driven away from the shoal. China banned Philippine fishing in and around the shoal.

To comfort the Philippines, the US told the Philippines to file an arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. It used its influence to help the Philippines obtain a favorable ruling and promised to help the Philippines enforce the ruling.

The Philippines did have obtained a favorable ruling the denied all China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea. As promised, the US sent two aircraft battle groups to force China to accept the ruling. China responded by challenging the US to war. The US certainly is not willing to fight a costly war for Philippine interests. As a result, Philippine fishermen were banned to fish there.

It was only when Duterte wanted to be friendly with China that China began to allow the Philippines to fish there.

Now, the US seems really hard in dealing with China. Some Philippine politicians and officials began to cherish Aquino’s unrealistic belief again especially when the US has sent its aircraft carrier battle groups to the South China Sea repeatedly. China has grown stronger in the nearly a decade after the said standoff. Moreover, it has built a few artificial islands with long airstrips on three of them in preparations for war to safeguard its rights and interests there.

After US Secretary of State Blinken promised to perform US treaty obligations to protect the Philippines in case of its military conflicts with China. China sent large fleets of fishing vessels to the disputed waters to challenge the Philippines with obvious intention to test the US whether it will perform its treaty obligations as Blinken promised.

Philippines Foreign Ministry protested Chinese vessels presence based on the arbitration ruling that the waters belong to the Philippines but Duterte remained silent. According to Reuters report “Philippines flags ‘incursions’ by nearly 300 Chinese militia boats” on May 13, 2021, Philippine President Duterte said the ruling was just a “piece of paper” that he could throw in the trash.

However, in Reuters report “Philippines’ Duterte says won’t withdraw ships from contested waters” the next day, Reuters says, “In his televised address, he (Duterte) said he ‘believes in the entirety’ of that ruling.”

What did he mean? has he reversed his position and wanted to enforce the ruling instead of throwing it in the trash? In fact Duterte is wise to say so.

In its entirety Duterte believes the ruling provides what his country wants but is not binding on China and cannot be enforced without a war joined by the US against China. Since the US does not want to fight for the Philippines’ interests in the South China Sea, the Philippines, as a much weaker country, is unable to fight to enforce the ruling. As the ruling in its entirely is unenforceable, it is but a piece of waste paper that Duterte can throw in the trash. That is Duterte’s wise belief.

The report quotes Duterte as saying, “I do not want a quarrel, I do not want trouble. I respect your position, and you respect mine. But we will not go to war”.

He is indeed wise not to confront China or try to draw in the US in a military conflict with China. Both the Philippines and the US will be embarrassed if the former fights China but the latter will not join it. The US will lose its credibility in failing to perform its treaty obligations while the Philippines may be humiliated with the loss of the war.

Chinese vessels are in the disputed waters to impose its summer fishing ban. Duterte respects China’s position so that he will not tell Philippine fishermen to fish there. He wants China to respect his position not to withdraw Philippine vessels from the disputed waters. Since China allows freedom of navigation there, it certainly will not drive Philippine vessels from the disputed waters.

By those words, Duterte pleases Philippine people with his seemingly strong attitude against China but avoids upset China with any actual deeds.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters reports, full text of which can respectively be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippines-flags-incursions-by-nearly-300-chinese-militia-boats-2021-05-12/ and https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippines-duterte-says-wont-withdraw-ships-contested-waters-2021-05-14/.


Arbitration Ruling, Piece of Waste Paper, Philippine President Duterte


Reuters says in its report “Philippines flags ‘incursions’ by nearly 300 Chinese militia boats” today (May 13, 2021)” that Philippine Foreign Ministry has repeatedly complained about large number of Chinese Ships in waters it regards as Philippine territorial waters based on the arbitration ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, a ruling China denies.

Now according to the report, Philippine President Duterte said the ruling was just a “piece of paper” that he could throw in the trash.

Due to Duterte’s pro-China policies, the Philippines has for years turned blind eyes to the presence of Chinese ships in the disputed waters claimed by both countries, but now its foreign ministry has begun to protest perhaps due to US Secretary of State Blinken’s promise to help the Philippines safeguard its interests in the disputed waters. If the Philippines is serious in imposing the ruling, there is bound to be military conflicts. Will the conflicts cause the US to perform its treaty obligations to join the philippines in a war with China? That will be the question.

It seems China is not scared by Blinken’s words. Previously, Chinese fishing boats did fish in the disputed waters but not on such large scale. This time there are 285 ships there. They certainly are not conducting fishing operations as China has imposed its summer fishing ban there from May to mid-September. That is obviously a challenge to see whether the US dare to interfere militarily with the disputes there.

It seems that Duterte knows well that the US will not honor Blinken’s promise to help the Philipines fight China; therefore, he regards the ruling that the US helped the Philippines to obtain but as a piece of waster paper.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippines-flags-incursions-by-nearly-300-chinese-militia-boats-2021-05-12/.


Philippines says boosting maritime presence to protect territory, resources


Reuters

April 21, 2021

6:55 PM HKT

The Philippines is beefing up its presence in the South China Sea and deploying more ships and an aircraft to protect its maritime territory and resources, a government task force said on Wednesday.

The Philippines has ramped up its rhetoric in recent weeks in defiance of what it says is threatening behaviour by Chinese vessels in its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), despite four years of rapprochement with historic rival China.

“We are exhausting all means possible to protect our territory and EEZ,” the Philippines’ South China Sea task force said in a statement.

The deployment is the latest move in an ongoing feud with China over what Manila called “swarming” by hundreds of fishing vessels it said were manned by Chinese state-backed militias. China has denied militias were aboard.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered authorities to continue “sovereignty patrols”, and intensify operations against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in its territorial waters, the task force said.

Nine vessels from the coastguard and the fisheries bureau, a coastguard aircraft and police watercraft and rubber boats were being deployed in the South China Sea, including in waters off Philippine-held islands in the Spratlys, the task force said.

U.S.-ally the Philippines has filed several diplomatic protests over Chinese activities in the South China Sea, with the latest accusing its giant neighbour of illegal fishing and massing more than 240 boats within its EEZ. read more

The challenge puts the spotlight on Duterte’s controversial pursuit of better relations and economic ties with China.

The firebrand leader said on Monday he was prepared to deploy navy ships to assert the Philippines’ sovereign rights to oil and mineral resources in its EEZ, telling China that if it started drilling for oil, so will he.

China claims almost the South China Sea, where about $3 trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


South China Sea: Manila and Beijing agreed to shelve dispute, ambassador says – despite Duterte’s vow to uphold ruling


  • Presidents Xi and Duterte had already reached a ‘consensus’ to ‘put aside’ their competing maritime claims, said Chinese envoy to Manila Huang Xilian

  • His comments came just days after Duterte vowed to uphold a 2016 arbitration ruling, and led one retired judge to say the president had been ‘taken for a ride’

Raissa Robles

Published: 8:36pm, 28 Sep, 2020

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pictured with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last April. Photo: AP

China and the Philippines have agreed to shelve their dispute over the South China Sea, according to the Chinese ambassador to Manila – who spoke mere days after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte won praise from critics for vowing before the United Nations General Assembly to uphold a 2016 arbitration award that had invalidated many of Beijing’s controversial maritime claims.

Source: Excerpts from SCMP’s report “South China Sea: Manila and Beijing agreed to shelve dispute, ambassador says – despite Duterte’s vow to uphold ruling”, full tex of which can be found at https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3103394/south-china-sea-manila-and-beijing-agreed-shelve-dispute

Note: These are excerpts of SCMP’s ’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China Pursues Win-win Cooperation, Not Zero Sum Ball Game in South China Sea


China’s rejection of 2016 tribunal ruling is not something new. Xi’s repeated statement that China is strong now so that no one will be able to force China to swallow the bitter fruit of losing its national rights and interests.

Philippine President Duterte knows that well. He knows that his country has no choice other than win-win cooperation with China. Therefore, though he was forced to mention the ruling, he had to accept Xi’s view that China will not accept the ruling but the ruling shall not affect the win-win cooperation between the two countries.

China seeks win-win cooperation with other countries in spite of the maritime territorial disputes. Therefore, it is not conducting a zero sum ball game with the Philippines. There is therefore no ball at all in Beijing’s court as described in SCMP’s article “Ball is in Beijing’s court’ on South China Sea after Rodrigo Duterte puts focus on international law”.

If Duterte had chosen and lost a zero sum ball game like his predicessor Aquino did, China would not have allowed Philippine fishermen to resume fishing at the Scarborough Shoal.

The article says, “The establishment of the joint steering committee on oil and gas cooperation, and an accompanying working group, also signalled some progress after the memorandum of understanding signed in November for joint resources development. But observers cautioned that domestic concerns, as well as institutional and legal issues, remained hurdles for its implementation.”

The oil and gas cooperation is the win-win cooperation China seeks. However, if the Philippines rejects such cooperation, China is well able to forbid Philippine exploration and exploitation of oil and gas there and explore and exploit the energy there alone.

China’s previous ban of Philippine exploitation of fish resources at Scarborough Shoal has made that very clear.

Ball at Beijing’s court”? What ball? No ball game at all. Win-win cooperation is the only way out.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3025228/ball-beijings-court-south-china-sea-after-rodrigo-duterte-puts.


Beijing tour ‘raging success’


By Mario J. Mallari –
April 29, 2019 12:05 AM

The short three-day swing of President Rodrigo Duterte to Beijing was hailed as one of his most successful foreign visits after clinching a commitment for peace from President Xi Jinping and $12 billion pledge of new investments.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. described the visit as a “raging success.”
“Actually the Belt and Road Forum (visit) is a raging success,” declared Locsin in a social media post.

Locsin was among the Cabinet members who joined President Duterte during the four-day visit to China.

Apart from attending the Second Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation, Mr. Duterte had bilateral meetings with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo noted Duterte’s trip paved the way for the signing of 19 business agreements on investments such as in energy, infrastructure including tourism-related facilities and for the speeding up of internet connectivity, improving agriculture productivity and providing Filipinos with skills training.

“As Mr. Duterte noted, the People’s Republic of China is the largest trading partner and a major source of foreign investments of the Philippines,” Panelo said.

Panelo disclosed the President also met with top Chinese leaders where he affirmed the country’s commitment to friendship and understanding with China.

Area of restraint
“He expressed the country’s readiness to pursue more high-quality and good-impact projects,” Panelo said.

Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping yielded a 1 billion renminbi (over P7 billion) grant to the Philippines,” he added.

Duterte reiterated to Xi his resolve to endeavor to make the West Philippine Sea (WPS) a sea of peace, stability and prosperity.

“He expounded the need for both countries to exercise restraint and caution to avoid actions that could complicate situations,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, Panelo pointed out that President Duterte also advocated the protection and welfare of migrant workers during the High-Level Meeting Session 1 of the forum.

Duterte pitched for the development assistance based on reciprocal benefits, Panelo added.

Inclusive prosperity
In his last day in China, Panelo said. Duterte attended the Leaders’ Roundtable Sessions in the Yanqi Lake International Conference Center where he emphasized the value of the nations, especially in Asia, working together with a shared goal of inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity.

“He welcomed economic investments that will help our country improve its economic productivity in the area of agriculture as well as in our country’s massive infrastructure development program while ensuring that it will be clean and green,” Panelo said.

Panelo, meanwhile, assured Filipinos that Duterte is chartering an “independent foreign policy to a new height of diplomatic relations with other nations.”

He said this independent policy will be solely based on national security and interest, national development and the aspiration to attain economic progress and a comfortable life.

Corruption-free
During the bilateral meeting between Duterte and Xi, the Philippines also bagged a 1-billion renminbi grant from China.

The investment agreements were worth $12.165 billion and could generate 21,000 fresh jobs for Filipinos.

Duterte vowed to prospective foreign investors an enabling environment in the Philippines to help their businesses and investments prosper, highlighting his administration’s anti-corruption campaign.”

Locsin said the Philippines and China also agreed to ensure that the implementation of projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are free from corruption.

“Another agreement is a clean Belt and Road Initiative between China and Philippines anti-corruption bodies to prevent and punish corruption in BRI projects,” Locsin said in a separate post.

Sole option
Peaceful negotiations remain the sole option for the country in addressing the WPS issue with China, according to former Senate President and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino senatorial bet Juan Ponce-Enrile.

Enrile cited Republic Act (RA) 9522 or the Philippines Archipelagic Baselines Law as basis in pursuing the country’s claims over the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and the Scarborough Shoal in the WPS.

“The KIG or the regime of islands there are under our baseline law. We should negotiate that with China,” Enrile told the Daily Tribune.

“The only capability we have is through negotiations, we must use patience in negotiating with China,” he added.

Enrile, one of the authors of RA 9522, said the Philippine baselines law was provided under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.

Commitment to laws
“The baseline law not only enabled us to defend, protect and preserve our own national territory but also to signify the Philippines’ strong commitment to adhere to the tenets of the international law of the seas,” Enrile said.

The former Senate President reiterated that close cooperation and enhanced bilateral relations with China is the right path.

Earlier, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the Philippines will focus on the positive sides of the relationship with China rather than the differences, like the dispute in the WPS.

He, however, stressed the Duterte administration is not remiss in its constitutional duty of protecting the country’s sovereignty and territory.

Source: Tribune “Beijing tour ‘raging success’”

Note: This is Tribune’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


19 deals with Chinese businesses signed during Duterte’s China trip


If all the agreements are implemented by the Filipino and Chinese companies, they could bring in $12.2 billion worth of investments, says Malacañang

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is greeted by one of the leaders in attendance during the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the China National Convention Center in Beijing on April 26, 2019. Malacañang photo

Pia Ranada @piaranada

Published 8:47 PM, April 26, 2019
Updated 8:47 PM, April 26, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Nineteen agreements with Chinese companies were signed during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China in April for the Belt and Road Forum.

The agreements, if all push through, could bring $12.165 billion (P634 trillion) worth of investments to the Philippines and could provide employment to 21,000 Filipinos, said Malacañang on Friday, April 26.

This is a staggering amount considering that the government’s entire budget for 2019 is P3.7 trillion. The Palace does not provide a breakdown of the estimated trillions in investment value.

Earlier that day, Duterte and Cabinet officials attended a forum with Chinese and Filipino businessmen interested in collaborating for ventures in the Philippines or that involve hiring Filipinos or buying Philippine products.

The 19 deals are a mix of memoranda of understanding, memoranda of agreement, purchase agreements, and one contract agreement.

Below is the list of agreements:

One of the deals is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the “construction and development of a nationwide public wi-fi system.”

It was signed by Salvador Zamora III, Tranzen Group chairman, and Luo Ning, chairman of CITIC Network Co Ltd, a Chinese company.

The project is supposed to establish a wi-fi network in “various capital cities and towns” in the Philippines which includes a network that will enable emergency services and information services, digital TV and satellite network services, “smart city” digital and internet services with fiber and wi-fi, and “other telecommunication services.”

There was also a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the training of Filipinos to serve as domestic helpers in China.

The MOA to “establish a strategic partnership to train and to introduce Filipino Domestic Helpers to China” was signed by Morrys Ang of the Philippine International Overseas Management Systems, Inc and Gao Wen of Guofa Major Project Management Co Ltd.

Among the more concrete deals signed was a contract agreement for a proposed South Pulangi Hydroelectric Powerplant.

It was signed by Josue Lapitan, president and CEO of Pulangi Hydro Power Corporation. On the Chinese side, it was signed by Dong Bin, chairman of China Energy Co Ltd.

Six agreements involved the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority led by its administrator, Raul Lambino:
•MOU on proposed CEZA Asparas Yacht Club
•MOU on proposed Green Textile Industry Park
•MOU on proposed expansion of the Lallo Airport or Cagayan North International Airport
•MOU on a proposed integrated resort with theme parks and amenities, manufacturing plant for lithium batteries, duty-free supermarket for imported and local merchandise, township development with support infrastructure and utilities, financial technology solutions center
•MOU on establishment of fintech hub and financial center with entertainment facilities, dormitories, supermarket, restaurants, and coffee shops, and the development of an integrated resort and boutique hotel
•MOU on proposed establishment of a “comprehensive smart city”

Two agreements were actual purchase framework agreements. Chinese company Goodfarmer Foods Holding agreed to buy pineapples from Philippine company PhilPack Corporation from April 1 to December 2019.

China Artest Corporation Fujian Company said it would buy young coconuts from the Philippines’ Eng Seng Food Products for an entire year, from March 2019 to March 2020.

Duterte’s Special Envoy for China, Fernando “Ding” Borja, is set to fly home with a deal of his own.

His company, Adnama Mining, signed an MOU on the proposed development and operation of an iron processing plant with Chinese companies A Fu Properties and Xiamen C&D. – Rappler.com

Source: Rappler.com “19 deals with Chinese businesses signed during Duterte’s China trip”

Note: This is Rappler.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Philippines ready for more Belt and Road projects with China: Duterte


Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 25 2019 09:26 PM

MANILA—The Philippines is ready to pursue more projects with China under the Belt and Road Initiative, President Rodrigo Duterte told Chinese Premier Li Kequiang Thursday.

Duterte, who is in China for the second Belt and Road Forum, said he wants to “bolster” Manila’s engagements with Beijing during his bilateral meeting with Li.

“The Philippines’ continued participation in this forum is an acknowledgment of the vision of a global connectivity for shared prosperity,” the President said in his opening remarks during the meeting.

“For the signing of the MOU (memorandum of understanding) on cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Philippines is ready to pursue more projects with China.”

China’s Belt and Road Initiative plans to connect Beijing to the rest of Asia, Africa, and Europe through a series of ports, railways, roads, and industrial parks.

If fully realized, the global infrastructure plan could set the stage for the world economic landscape in the years to come.

Earlier in the day, Duterte also held a bilateral meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping where he touted “high-quality” projects with China as he sought for Manila’s inclusion in the Belt and Road Forum.

Duterte, who veered away from the Philippines’ oldest ally the United States at the start of his presidency, is visiting China for the fourth time in his 3-year-old presidency.

His visit comes at the heels of rising tensions between Manila and Beijing over disputed areas in the South China Sea.

Duterte had set aside Manila’s victory from a United Nations-backed international court which invalidated China’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea in exchange for closer ties with Asia’s largest economy.

Source: ABS-CBN “Philippines ready for more Belt and Road projects with China: Duterte”

Note: This is ABS-CBN’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China, Philippines to Cooperate on Oil, Gas Exploitation in Disputed Sea


SCMP says in its report “China-Philippine relations ‘never been better’, says ex-president Gloria Arroyo” that during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s just finished visit to the Philippines, the two countries signed 29 deals including a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on oil and gas development in the South China Sea.

Preceding his visit to the Philippines, Xi visited Brunei and agreed with it “on further win-win cooperation in exploiting oil and gas resources in the disputed South China Sea”, according to SCMP’s report “China and Brunei to step up oil and gas development in disputed South China Sea” on November 19.

I said in my comment on SCMP’s that report titled “China Solving South China Sea Disputes by Oil, Gas Exploitation Cooperation” on November 20:

Xi is to visit the Philippines today and may conclude some agreement on cooperation in exploiting oil and gas with the Philippines. As Vietnam and Malaysia also have similar desire on cooperation with China, there are prospects that China’s disputes with its neighbors over the South China Sea will be resolved peacefully through win-win cooperation.

Some may think Philippine current president Duterte’s pro-China strategy is exceptional, but Philippine former president and present speaker of House of Representatives Arroyo precisely adopted a similar pro-China strategy in her nine years as Philippine president until 2010.

During the nine years, the Philippine also cooperated with China on oil and gas development with a US$15 million deal – known as the Joint Maritime Seismic Undertaking – to jointly conduct seismic prospecting for oil in the sea. The deal was later joined by Vietnam.

Arroyo’s successor former President Aquino, instead, is an exception. He tried to exploit US pivot to Asia to deny China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea with US military support, but failed in disgrace. He makes Duterte’s pro-Beijing strategy popular as his failed speculation showed that the US does no care about its ally’s interests. Though Philippines’ military ally, the US is not willing to fight for Philippines’ interests.

That make Duterte’s policy of dumping the US popular among Philippine people.

In fact, Philippine elite knew US selfishness long ago as shown by their driving away of US military bases in the Philippines in the 1990s.

The US believes that it is popular in the Philippines. Duterte’s popularity proves precisely the contrary.

China is popular among developing nations as it respects them, cares for their interests and is generous in providing financial aids for them

SCMP’s another report today “Faced with a mounting economic crisis, the cash-strapped Maldives is looking to renegotiate its piles of Chinese debt” proves precisely that. Its title tries to make readers believe that Maldives is in China’s debt trap, a term Western countries use to demonize China.

The fact reflected in the report proves the contrary.

SCMP quotes China’s ambassador as telling the local Avas.mv website that in fact only about half of the Maldives’ external debt pile of US$1.2 billion was owed to Beijing.

He said the loans carried an interest rate of 2 per cent and a five-year grace period, while also disputing claims of a debt trap.

“We have nothing to gain if a friendly country falls into debt,” he said. “There is no single (piece of) evidence to support the so-called debt trap claim.”

In spite of the busy demonizing by Western politicians and media, China remains popular as it pursues win-win cooperation with other nations. And in spite of US boasting of its so-called good intention to help other nations, the US remains unpopular due to its arrogant invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. interference in other countries’ internal affairs by causing regime changes and exporting its democracy that does not bring prosperity and unity even in its own country.

Comments by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s reports, full text of which can respectively be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2174384/china-philippine-relations-never-been-better-says-ex-president and https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/south-asia/article/2174413/faced-mounting-economic-crisis-cash-strapped-maldives-looking.