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


China Making Preparations to Counter US Nuclear Attack

China showcased its strategic nuclear submarines when there were prospects of a war between it and Japan that may involve the US. It was afraid that the US might retaliate with nuclear weapons when it sank a US aircraft carrier.

By showcasing the submarines, China told the US that it has second-strike capabilities with strategic nuclear submarines in addition to its mobile ICBMs hidden in its 5,000 km long tunnels.

Now, the US is planning to upgrade its missile defense that may intercept China’s second-strike ICBMs and there are prospects of US military intervention with China’s maritime territorial disputes with other claimants; therefore, China is now busy upgrading its ICBMs to enable each of them to have more than one warheads, each of which can target independently.

The New York Times published a report titled “China Making Some Missiles More Powerful” on that. The following is the full text of the report:

China Making Some Missiles More Powerful

WASHINGTON — After decades of maintaining a minimal nuclear force, China has re-engineered many of its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple warheads, a step that federal officials and policy analysts say appears designed to give pause to the United States as it prepares to deploy more robust missile defenses in the Pacific.

What makes China’s decision particularly notable is that the technology of miniaturizing warheads and putting three or more atop a single missile has been in Chinese hands for decades. But a succession of Chinese leaders deliberately let it sit unused; they were not interested in getting into the kind of arms race that characterized the Cold War nuclear competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Now, however, President Xi Jinping appears to have altered course, at the same moment that he is building military airfields on disputed islands in the South China Sea, declaring exclusive Chinese “air defense identification zones,” sending Chinese submarines through the Persian Gulf for the first time and creating a powerful new arsenal of cyberweapons

Many of those steps have taken American officials by surprise and have become evidence of the challenge the Obama administration faces in dealing with China, in particular after American intelligence agencies had predicted that Mr. Xi would focus on economic development and follow the path of his predecessor, who advocated the country’s “peaceful rise.”

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Beijing on Saturday to discuss a variety of security and economic issues of concern to the United States, although it remained unclear whether this development with the missiles, which officials describe as recent, was on his agenda.

American officials say that, so far, China has declined to engage in talks on the decision to begin deploying multiple nuclear warheads atop its ballistic missiles.

“The United States would like to have a discussion of the broader issues of nuclear modernization and ballistic missile defense with China,” said Phillip C. Saunders, director of the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at National Defense University, a Pentagon-funded academic institution attended by many of the military’s next cadre of senior commanders.

“The Chinese have been reluctant to have that discussion in official channels,” Mr. Saunders said, although he and other experts have engaged in unofficial conversations with their Chinese counterparts on the warhead issue.

Beijing’s new nuclear program was reported deep inside the annual Pentagon report to Congress about Chinese military capabilities, disclosing a development that poses a dilemma for the Obama administration, which has never talked publicly about these Chinese nuclear advances.

President Obama is under more pressure than ever to deploy missile defense systems in the Pacific, although American policy officially states that those interceptors are to counter North Korea, not China. At the same time, the president is trying to find a way to signal that he will resist Chinese efforts to intimidate its neighbors, including some of Washington’s closest allies, and to keep the United States out of the Western Pacific.

Already, there is talk in the Pentagon of speeding up the missile defense effort and of sending military ships into international waters near the disputed islands, to make it clear that the United States will insist on free navigation even in areas that China is claiming as its exclusive zone.

Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a policy research group in Washington, called the new deployments of Chinese warheads “a bad day for nuclear constraint.”

“China’s little force is slowly getting a little bigger,” he said, “and its limited capabilities are slowly getting a little better.”

To American officials, the Chinese move fits into a rapid transformation of their strategy under Mr. Xi, now considered one of the most powerful leaders since Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping. Vivid photographs, which were released recently, of Chinese efforts to reclaim land on disputed islands in the South China Sea and immediately build airfields on them, underscored for White House policy makers and military planners the speed and intensity of Mr. Xi’s determination to push potential competitors out into the mid-Pacific.

That has involved building aircraft carriers and submarines to create an overall force that could pose a credible challenge to the United States in the event of a regional crisis. Some of China’s military modernization program has been aimed directly at America’s technological advantage. China has sought technologies to block American surveillance and communications satellites, and its major investments in cybertechnology — and probes and attacks on American computer networks — are viewed by American officials as a way to both steal intellectual property and prepare for future conflict.

The upgrade to the nuclear forces fits into that strategy.

“This is obviously part of an effort to prepare for long-term competition with the United States,” said Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who was a senior national security official in the George W. Bush administration. “The Chinese are always fearful of American nuclear advantage.”

American nuclear forces today outnumber China’s by eight to one. The choice of which nuclear missiles to upgrade was notable, Mr. Tellis said, because China chose “one of few that can unambiguously reach the United States.”

The United States pioneered multiple warheads early in the Cold War. The move was more threatening than simply adding arms. In theory, one missile could release warheads that adjusted their flight paths so each zoomed toward a different target.

The term for the technical advance — multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle, or MIRV — became one of the Cold War’s most dreaded fixtures. It embodied the horrors of overkill and unthinkable slaughter. Each re-entry vehicle was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb. Each, by definition, was many times more destructive than the crude atomic weapon that leveled Hiroshima.

China watched all this from the sidelines. Gingerly, it improved its warheads and missile forces in what amounted to baby steps, but chose to field a force that the leadership in Beijing believed could deter aggression with the smallest number of deployed warheads.

In 1999, during the Clinton administration, Republicans in Congress charged that Chinese spies had stolen the secrets of H-bomb miniaturization. But intelligence agencies noted Beijing’s restraint.

“For 20 years,” the C.I.A. reported, “China has had the technical capability to develop” missiles with multiple warheads and could, if so desired, upgrade its missile forces with MIRVs “in a few years.”

The calculus shifted in 2004, when the Bush administration began deploying a ground-based antimissile system in Alaska and California. Early in 2013, the Obama administration, worrying about North Korean nuclear advances, ordered an upgrade. It called for the interceptors to increase in number to 44 from 30.

While administration officials emphasized that Chinese missiles were not in the system’s cross hairs, they acknowledged that the growing number of interceptors might shatter at least some of Beijing’s warheads.

Today, analysts see China’s addition of multiple warheads as at least partly a response to Washington’s antimissile strides. “They’re doing it,” Mr. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said, “to make sure they could get through the ballistic missile defenses.”

The Pentagon report, released on May 8, said that Beijing’s most powerful weapon now bore MIRV warheads. The intercontinental ballistic missile is known as the DF-5 (for Dong Feng, or East Wind). The Pentagon has said that China has about 20 in underground silos.

Private analysts said each upgraded DF-5 had probably received three warheads and that the advances might span half the missile force. If so, the number of warheads China can fire from that weapon at the United States has increased to about 40 from 20.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on Chinese nuclear forces at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In an interview, he emphasized that even fewer of the DF-5s might have received the upgrade.

Early last week, Mr. Kristensen posted a public report on the missile intelligence.

Beijing’s new membership in “the MIRV club,” he said, “strains the credibility of China’s official assurance that it only wants a minimum nuclear deterrent and is not part of a nuclear arms race.”

Source: The New York Times “China Making Some Missiles More Powerful”

Obama Making Russian Invasion of Ukraine More Likely

A Ukrainian military convoy moves along a road near Donetsk August 9, 2014.  Credit: REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

A Ukrainian military convoy moves along a road near Donetsk August 9, 2014.
Credit: REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

According to Reuters report “Russia sending aid convoy to Ukraine despite Western warnings of ‘invasion pretext’” today, Russian troops have concentrated along Russian-Ukrainian border in order to invade Ukraine. They may use provision of humanitarian aids as an excuse.

Reuters says, “President Vladimir Putin said on Monday Russia is sending an aid convoy to eastern Ukraine despite urgent Western warnings against using humanitarian help as a pretext for an invasion.

“With Ukraine reporting Russia has massed 45,000 troops on its border, NATO said there was a ‘high probability’ that Moscow could intervene militarily in the country’s east, where Kiev’s forces are closing in on pro-Russian separatists.

“Western countries believe that Putin – who has whipped up the passions of Russians with a nationalist campaign in state-controlled media since annexing Crimea from Ukraine in March – could now send his forces into the east to head off a humiliating rebel defeat.”

This blogger is certain that Putin does have the ambition to annex eastern Ukraine as soon as possible. Then what is he waiting for?

He shall be sure that neither the US nor NATO will respond militarily and that if they respond instead with economic sanctions, he will have Chinese support to avoid being hurt too seriously.

China has great interests in eastern Ukraine as the industrial enterprises there have provided and promised to provide important weapons and weapon technologies for China. The damages caused by intensification of military activities in eastern Ukriane due to Russian invasion will greatly harm Chinese interests. Therefore, China perhaps will not support Russian invasion.

So far NATO and the US have not even hinted that they will respond militarily; therefore, the key is Chinese attitude.

On August 10, US Secretary of State John Kerry tried hard to rally small Southeast Asian countries to confront China but failed. However, Reuters says in its report “U.S. to monitor South China Sea for de-escalation after China rebuff” today that the US will keep its pressure on China. It says in the report, “The United States will monitor the South China Sea to see whether ‘de-escalatory steps’ are being taken, a U.S. State Department official said on Monday, a day after China resisted pressure to rein in actions in the disputed waters.”

There is now a war of words between China and the US. Reuters says, “China’s Xinhua state news agency accused Washington of ‘stoking the flames,’ and ‘further emboldening countries like the Philippines and Vietnam to take a hardline stance against China, raising suspicion over the real intention of the United States and make an amicable solution more difficult to reach.’”

According to the report, “A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department hit back by saying the United States was not responsible for fomenting instability in the South China Sea. ‘It’s the aggressive acts the Chinese have taken that are doing do,’ Marie Harf told a regular news briefing.”

This blogger believes that at this critical juncture for Ukraine, Obama certainly shall not push China further to Russia’s side. However, Obama chose the wrong timing and has thus ensured Chinese support for Russia.

This blogger wonders what diplomatic efforts the US has made in preparations of Kerry’s diplomacy against China. Kerry’s failure to stop China proved US inability and will make US pivot to Asia less effective. He could have avoided that if he had made adequate preparations.

Anyway it will be poor Ukraine to suffer. Obama’s stupid diplomacy is making Russian invasion more likely.

Source: Reuters “Russia sending aid convoy to Ukraine despite Western warnings of ‘invasion pretext’” and “U.S. to monitor South China Sea for de-escalation after China rebuff”

Related posts:

  • China Not Stopped, Kerry Is Satisfied; Russia Not Stopped, Obama Satisfied as World Leader dated August 11, 2014
  • China Will Beat the US due to Obama’s Poor Strategy and Diplomacy dated August 8, 2014
  • China the Biggest Winner in US-Russian Confrontation dated August 7, 2014
  • Obama Strengthening Russian-Chinese Ties dated August 4, 2014
  • China’s Wise Ways in Dealing with South China Sea Disputes dated July 30, 2014
  • China Is Wise in Withdrawing Oil Rig to Avoid Confrontation with the US dated July 18, 2014

Firing at Vietnamese Boat, China’s New Hardline Strategy to Resolve Disputes

According to Chinese and Vietnamese media, Chinese warships fired at a Vietnamese fishing boat.

Vietnamese Foreign Ministry issued a statement on March 25, stating, “This is a very serious case of violating Vietnamese sovereignty.”

“Vietnam resolutely opposes it and demands that China investigates and strictly deals with the said inhumane wrongdoings and compensate the damages suffered by Vietnamese fishermen.”

Due to the maritime territorial dispute between China and Vietnam, conflicts have been common for quite a long time. In the past, China acted with restraint and usually it was Vietnamese gunboats chasing Chinese fishing boats instead of vice versa.

According to Chinese official media Global Times’ report on May 19, Chinese fishing boat Guibei Fishing 88088 and others were chased by “the gun boats of a certain country intended to seize those fishing boats”. Having received signal for help from the boat, China Fishery Administration 310 rushed to the area and frightened away the three foreign gun boats.

Nearly all Chinese who read the news clearly knew that the foreign country was Vietnam and that China refrained from mentioning the country’s name in order to maintain friendly relations with Vietnam. For details of the report please see my post “Foreign gun boats’ maneuver blocked by Chinese ship” dated May 19, 2012 at

According to Singtao Daily report today, over the past year, China has intensified its efforts in maintaining its sovereignty in the South China Sea and arrested hundreds of Vietnamese fishermen. It is said that most Vietnamese fishermen are armed with guns. They often contend with Chinese law enforcement ships for a long time in the disputed waters.

Chinese academics pointed out that Vietnam used its fishing boats to claim sovereignty to the disputed sea area in that way and roused China’s attention to that. They gave the advice that China should also adopt that trick.

That was why China sent 1,000 fishing boats to the sea area around the disputed Diaoyus (called Senkakus by Japan) to claim sovereignty on September 17, 2012. (See my post “Over 1,000 Chinese Fishing Boats to Fish at Disputed Waters” at

China also sent fishing boats to areas in the South China Sea that they usually did not go fishing there. The area around the Diaoyus is rich with fish resources, but the fishing boats sent to the areas China did not usually fish might get nothing and they might be disturbed by the Philippines. There were reports that China not only sent marine surveillance ships to escort the fishing fleet but also subsidized fishermen for the fishing expeditions.

Such fishing activities aiming at claiming sovereignty are bound to give rise to conflicts. In the area around the Diaoyus, whether a war may break out depends on whether China or Japan dares to fire the first shot. So far neither China nor Japan dares to fight the first shot so that there is still peace there in spite of the tension.

In the sea area of dispute between China and Vietnam, the situation is quite different. The US cannot help Vietnam even if it wants to as the area is too close within the range of Chinese land-based aircrafts and missiles. At best, Vietnam may ask Russia to apply its influence on China. In the past, Vietnam was closer to Russia than China, but now China seems to be much more important than Vietnam to Russia.

Singtao Daily says, “on March 13, four Vietnamese fishing boats including Trawler QNg96382 were fishing in the area near the Dongdao Island of the Xisha Islands (the Paracel Islands). They were driven away by China’s Marine Surveillance Ships 262 and 263. On March 20, Trawler QNg96382 stealthily returned alone to fish in Xisha sea area.

“At that time, Anti-submarine escort boat no. 786 the Wanning of Chinese navy’s South China Sea Fleet was patrolling the sea area. It discovered the trawler, chased it to drive it away. After about 30 minutes of chasing, the Chinese boat fired warning shots and signal flare at the trawler.

“Vietnamese News Net said that the Vietnamese fishing boat was hit and on fire. Seeing that, the Chinese boat stopped chasing. The boat returned to a Vietnamese port on March 22. A small white shed on top of the cabin on the deck and its inside were seriously burnt, but there was no casualty in the incident.

“Vietnamese Foreign Ministry summoned staff of Chinese embassy to Vietnam to express ‘serious protest’ in a formal official letter. In addition, it issued the above-mentioned statement” (excerpts of Singtao Daily’s report “Chinese warship fired warning shots Vietnese fishing boat damaged by fire” translated by Chan Kai Yee).

Reuters said in its report “Vietnam accuses China of attack on fishermen in South China Sea” on March 26, “Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei rejected Vietnam’s claim that the trawler had been damaged and urged it to teach its fishermen to stay out of its waters.

“‘The response by the relevant Chinese body against the illegal Vietnamese fishing boat was appropriate and reasonable,’ Hong told reporters in Beijing.

“‘We hope the Vietnamese side takes earnest steps to improve education for and management of fishermen to stop such illegal activities.’”

It seems China is not afraid to fight a naval battle with Vietnam. As China has won two naval battles against Vietnam, I do not think Vietnam dares to fight as its navy and air force are much inferior. Defeating or subduing Vietnam will have the effect of the Chinese saying “killing the chicken to frighten the monkey”. The Philippines may be frightened.

If the defeated or subdued Vietnam is willing to resolve the dispute with China through talks and if China is generous (as a large and powerful country, it shall be so) in the talks, perhaps the Philippine will follow Vietnam’s example. So will other countries that have maritime territorial disputes with China. Japan will then be isolated as it has maritime territorial dispute not only with China but also with Russia and Korea. In addition, the US will find it difficult to set its foot in Asia.

That will be China’s best strategy. China has fired the first shot that may lead to war, but I do not know whether China will adopt that strategy.

Source: Singtao Daily, Global Times, Reuters

Singapore concerned over China’s South China Sea rule

Reuters reports: “Singapore expressed concern on Monday over China’s plan to board and search ships sailing in what it considers its territory in the South China Sea, as tension grows over Beijing’s sovereignty claims in busy Southeast Asian waters.

“‘Singapore is concerned about this recent turn of events,’ the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response to a recent Chinese media report on new rules that will allow police in the southern Chinese province of Hainan to board and seize control of foreign ships which ‘illegally enter’ its waters from January 1.

“Wealthy Singapore, home to the world’s second-busiest container port, is the second Southeast Asian country to publicly express concern over the new rules after the Philippines on Saturday condemned the Chinese plan as illegal.

“The issue divided Southeast Asian leaders at a summit last month in Phnom Penh, where host Cambodia, a staunch China ally, sought to limit discussion on the mineral-rich sea, where China’s claims overlap in places with those of four Southeast Asian countries and of Taiwan.”

Tension over the South China Sea, home to a third of the world’s shipping activity, is entering a new and more contentious chapter, as claimant nations build up their navies and alliances with other nations, particularly with the United States.

For details, please visit Reuters website at:

China angers neighbors with sea claims on new passports

Reuters reports from Manila “The Philippines and Vietnam condemned Chinese passports containing a map of China’s disputed maritime claims on Thursday, branding the new design a violation of their sovereignty.

“The map means countries disputing the Chinese claims will have to stamp microchip-equipped passports of countless visitors, in effect acquiescing to the Chinese point of view.

“Stand-offs between Chinese vessels and the Philippine and Vietnamese navies in the South China Sea have become more common as China increases patrols in waters believed to hold vast reserves of oil and natural gas.

The Philippines strongly protests” and so does Vietnam.

“China’s foreign ministry said in a faxed response to questions that the new passports met international standards.

“‘The passports’ maps with their outlines of China are not targeting a specific country. China is willing to actively communicate with the relevant countries and promote the healthy development of Sino-foreign personnel exchanges,’ it said.

“It was not clear when China began printing the new passports.”

For details, please visit Reuters website at:

South China Sea dispute wrecks Asean unity

SCMP reports: Consensus shattered after Manila challenges Phnom Penh’s claim that bloc had agreed not to ‘internationalise’ disputes with Beijing

“Asean unity yet again lay in tatters last night – thwarting a Chinese-backed effort to keep South China Sea territorial disputes off the agenda of today’s international leaders’ summit in Cambodia.

“Host Cambodia’s claim on Sunday that the 10 leaders of Southeast Asia had agreed not to ‘internationalise’ the issue by limiting it to meetings with China was directly challenged by the Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino.

“‘There were several views expressed yesterday on Asean unity which we did not realise would be translated into an Asean consensus,’ Aquino told fellow Asean leaders during a meeting with Japan yesterday, according to a government statement.

“‘For the record, this was not our understanding. The Asean route is not the only route for us.’

“Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and Brunei, dispute China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea.

“The deal had marked an apparent diplomatic victory for Beijing. Chinese envoys have been lobbying hard on the issue, and Cambodia – a Chinese aid recipient – was once again accused of doing Beijing’s bidding as this year’s chairman of Asean.”

For details, please visit SCMP website at: