• Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Philippines changes tack on China

Discussion in 'China & Far East' started by Get Ya Wig Split, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. Get Ya Wig Split

    Get Ya Wig Split BANNED

    Messages:
    389
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Ratings:
    +0 / 289 / -1
    Country:
    United States
    Location:
    United States
    The Philippines changes tack on China
    A fresh spat in the South China Sea prompts a change of heart

    [​IMG]

    The expressive president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, once gushed about his Chinese counterpart, “I just simply love Xi Jinping”. But the infatuation has faded. Upset that Chinese vessels have been mobbing the main Philippine-occupied island in the South China Sea, Mr Duterte rasped at China to “lay off”, and threatened an aggressive response. The same day, April 4th, American and Philippine forces practised storming a beach facing the South China Sea, in their biggest joint exercises since 2016, the year Mr Duterte announced a “separation” from America, his country’s only formal military ally. The Philippine pivot from America to China, dreamt up by his government to ease confrontation with China over overlapping claims in the South China Sea, has become a pirouette.

    For more than three months a flotilla of fishing vessels from China’s maritime militia has been swarming around Philippine-occupied Thitu, an island in the Spratly archipelago which is home both to a small military base and 200-odd civilians (see map). The manoeuvres appear to be a response to Philippine construction work on the island, to repair the airstrip and build a beaching ramp for small craft.

    Mr Duterte has responded with characteristic bluster. “I have soldiers there,” he warned the Chinese. “If you make a move there, that’s another story. I will tell my soldiers: ‘Prepare for suicide missions.’” The Chinese foreign ministry responded, slightly more stodgily, by noting that the Philippines and China had only recently “reiterated our commitments to further cooperation and talked about measures to enhance mutual trust”.

    [​IMG]

    Since the 1990s China has been occupying reefs and rocks in the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines and other littoral countries, and building on them. In 2012, after the Philippine navy tried to arrest some Chinese fishermen near Scarborough Shoal, which both China and the Philippines claim, Chinese vessels have patrolled the surrounding waters and at times turned away Philippine fishermen. The Philippines asked an international tribunal to adjudicate. In 2016, just after Mr Duterte became president, the tribunal ruled in the Philippines’ favour, saying China’s claim to the shoal was baseless.

    Jingoism sells well in the Philippines (as it does in China), and in the run-up to his election Mr Duterte threatened to jump on a jet ski and defend the Philippines’ claim to Scarborough Shoal single-handedly. But once in office, he opted instead to cosy up to China. He has kept quiet about the tribunal’s ruling, which Chinese leaders had rejected. China, in turn, has pledged big investments in roads, ports and railways around the Philippines. And although it still turns away some Philippine vessels, it has not built any military installations on Scarborough Shoal.

    But mid-term elections are nearing. The opposition has been cudgelling Mr Duterte for selling out to China. Not much of the promised investment has materialised. And now the Chinese are testing boundaries around Thitu. Small wonder, then, that Mr Duterte, who is as mercurial as he is expressive, appears to have had a change of heart. But as even he acknowledges, the Philippines would lose a war with China, so it would be foolish to start one.

    https://www.economist.com/asia/2019...ges-tack-on-china-again?fsrc=scn/tw/te/rfd/pe


     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  2. long_

    long_ SENIOR MEMBER

    Messages:
    4,057
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Ratings:
    +0 / 13,117 / -0
    Country:
    China
    Location:
    China
    Russian Warships Arrive in Philippines as Manila Distances Itself From U.S.
    April 8, 2019
    Bullit Marquez / AP / TASS

    Three Russian ships docked in Manila, the Philippines for a five-day port call on Monday aimed at improving navy-to-navy relations amid heightened tensions in the South China Sea.

    The arrival of two anti-submarine ships Admiral Tributs and Admiral Vinogradov and a tanker ship is the sixth visit by the Russian navy under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who has distanced himself from treaty ally U.S. and sought closer ties with Russia. The Philippines and China have both laid claim to large portions of the South China Sea, with China building militarized artificial islands across the important shipping lane.

    The Russian warships will hold goodwill exercises including joint drills on navigation and communication as well as trainings with the Philippines’ quick response forces, the Philippine News Agency reported.

    The Russian visit comes in the middle of U.S.-Philippine military drills involving 7,500 troops that wrap up on April 12, according to CNN.

    Russia’s ships are scheduled to take part in joint naval drills with China in late April and early May after visiting several countries in the region, the state-run TASS news agency reported.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 3