DID PRESIDENT DIGONG DUTERTE hit the bulls-eye in forging closer relations with China and Russia and distancing from an old ally in America?
A huge 89% agreed with this novel diplomatic move of a Philippine president and only 11% disagreed, in a a survey conducted by highly popular “Inyong Alagad” program over sister station DYRD.
However, an even bigger 92% of the 89% averred the Philippines should not distance herself completely from America where 4 million Filipinos live today.
The survey results reflect much about the dawning of a new independent foreign policy of a sitting Philippine president- whose predecessors pretty much were the disciples of the “Cold War” syndrome between capitalism and communism.
After the demise of the powerful British Empire, America became the second world superpower in modern history. This ensued after the demise of her “Cold War” rivals where the USSR disintegrated into various independent states and China’s “Great Wall” gave way to a hybrid form of capitalist-communist style of government.
Alas, in the 21st century the world took a major change.
America has weakened in her role as a global Robocop and internally- her economy riddled by a series of crisis. She remains still No 1 militarily and then followed by China -economically.
But the writing on the wall is clear. Between 2017-2020 , China is expected to eclipse America as the No 1 global economy. With 1.3 billion population , the Chinese is 1 of every 6 global citizen today.
The emerging superpower nations have been coined as BRIC or Brazil, Russia , India and China. Between the populations of China and India- that represents one third of the world population. Russia has tons of oil reserves and manufactures the best military weapons.
Geopolitical reality dictates that for one to maintain economic power, a nation must have enough military power to advance or protect her interests politically. Unfortunately, Asia (with over 50% of global commerce) will be the center of an emerging conflict as the economics and politics truly intertwine- as the Pentagon openly opines.
This is where the Philippines is in a crucial crossroad. Whose side should she take in the rivalry between America and China? Our recent historic romance with America especially after being comrades against Spain and Japan tilted the odds heavily in favor of the United States.
How is President Duterte behaving today? Exactly like a product of his past. In his school days he was steeped in the doctrine of Marxism which saw the global intent and practice of America to use allies towards their own selfish political and economic dominance.
Pragmatism on the growth of China -and the Philippines being a fellow Asian and his own analysis that the US had not really advanced the cause of the Philippines except serve America’s own interests- have pushed Duterte to approach an “independent foreign policy”.
The way we read him is- he does not want the country to become a collateral damage in a conflict between America and China by siding with one or the other unilaterally. Thus he is now open to “war games” with all nations (China and Russia including) and not just with America.
As a lawyer, president Digong must, however, be aware that international treaties are sacrosanct and are not just abrogated by the say-so of even a president. Doing so would isolate the nation as an international pariah -to the detriment of her 100 million people. Thus all military and economic treaties must be respected up to their dates of expiry. The President should be made aware of that.
The President has read China clearly- that she is first and last truly a businessman. The Chinese do not have grandiose plans of planting their ideological doctrines of governance on any nation. She purely wants to be wealthy and provide for her 1.3 billion population.
Thus, Duterte seems approaching China from the point of view of a businessman. China has 1.3 billion mouths to feed-imagine each of them eating one Philippine banana a day? China is teeming with so much money that its massive infrastructure program has resulted in super-highways bereft of cars and buildings empty of tenants there
China has so many people- our “modest target” of 10 million tourists coming to the country is equivalent to a tiny province in China in number. China has also artificially weakened its yuan currency (at the expense of her consumers) in order to favor cheap exports.
Notice how everything Chinese -made are flooding the country? And elsewhere. This results in more dollars flowing into China’s Foreign Reserves further strengthening her economy. She has so much cash -she can lend money to nations at very concessional rates and not get hurt at all.
Is the Philippines- capital starve- as she is- not in dire need of huge foreign capital to fund her old, decrepit and weak infrastructure?
So far, Duterte’s China gambit has brought from China a multi-million drug rehab center in Nueva Ecija, joint agreement to curb drugs and smuggling between the two nations, had the travel ban to RP dropped and fisher folks being allowed to fish in our claimed territories in South China Sea. And eight private business deals on transportation, internet, tourism and energy.
Small gains for a high political cost? Maybe not.
It would seem RP would no longer want to be a pawn in the world chess game of geopolitics. Instead -by being “friend to all and enemy to none”, RP can maneuver her moves and play the super powers against each other -and not one or all of them against RP. Smart?
Only time (and not for long ) will tell. We have to watch the new found foreign policy unravel its repercussions far and wide in the coming months. Primary to this is the reaction of the USA – especially following the heels of a new president in Washington- likely to be former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
The DYRD survey results and Duterte appear to be on the same page, therefore. A right hand shaking with China/Russia and the other left hand with the United States. Will such a diplomatic ping pong serve us well and increase our bargaining power? Really?
While we watch this new international tableau germinate into a new stark reality- we are still tempted to be forewarned that the “supposed antagonists” in this 21st fatal power play may not be players we mentioned.
For – we still hold the notion true that the Final Clash of Civilization will be between the Free World and Islam Radicalism. Not America vs China/Russia. What do you think, now?
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