Why the Philippines’ pivot from the US to China is unusual

Source: Asia Times:

While it is understandable that the Philippines needs to be less dependent on its American ally and to revive its frayed ties with China, its neighboring superpower, from a Vietnamese, and even regional, perspective Duterte’s volte-face shift from Washington to Beijing is unusual, if not incomprehensible, for a number of reasons.

First, like Vietnam, the Philippines is small and weak compared with China in terms of military capabilities, and still intractably locked in disputes with its neighboring giant over the South China Sea. Until recently, Manila was among the most vocal critics of China’s expansionist claims and aggressive actions in the disputed sea.

Second, due to maritime disputes and geopolitical rivalries, the region is faced with huge uncertainty and volatility. Given this, with few exceptions (e.g. Cambodia, which has apparently tilted toward Beijing), almost all ASEAN members, have sought to maintain balanced relations with – or adopted an ambivalent posture vis-à-vis – the US and China because they know it is ill-advised to put their eggs in one basket.

By breaking up with Washington and going to Beijing, instead of pursuing an independent – or more exactly balanced – foreign policy, Manila, intentionally or unintentionally, enters a new dependent or imbalanced one. The difference is that if under Mr. Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, the Philippines depended too much on the US and distanced from China, it is now following the completely opposing directions.


Categories: Asia, Philippines

1 reply

  1. Balanced approach is always long lasting. Hatred based politics always short lived. Hopefully Philippine President can understand this delicate point.

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