Duterte said to re­bal­ance by freez­ing S. China Sea is­sue

An­a­lysts call Philip­pine pres­i­dent’s tough talk an ef­fort to main­tain an in­de­pen­dent stance

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By AN BAIJIE an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

An­a­lysts say that Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte ap­pears to be seek­ing to change what they de­scribed as an un­equal re­la­tion­ship be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Manila by tak­ing mea­sures to im­prove ties with China. The lat­est ex­am­ple is his set­ting aside an ar­bi­tra­tion rul­ing on the South China Sea, which he did over the week­end.

“In the play of pol­i­tics, now, I will set aside the ar­bi­tra­tion rul­ing. I will not im­pose any­thing on China,” Duterte said at a news con­fer­ence on Satur­day.

Duterte praised China as hav­ing “the kind­est soul of all” for pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. “So, what do I need Amer­ica for?”

The ar­bi­tra­tion case was uni­lat­er­ally launched by Duterte’s pre­de­ces­sor, Benigno Aquino III, over South China Sea dis­putes.

Duterte also ex­pressed anger to­ward Wash­ing­ton’s crit­i­cism of his anti-drug ef­forts, and he urged US forces to leave the Philip­pines.

Philip­pine Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Car­los Dominguez said on Mon­day that the Bei­jing-based Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank will fund two in­fra­struc­ture projects for the Philip­pines, which is also a found­ing mem­ber of the AIIB.

On Fri­day, the Chi­nese and Philip­pine coast guards had the first meet­ing of its kind, dur­ing which they es­tab­lished a Joint Coast Guard Com­mit­tee to co­op­er­ate in ar­eas in­clud­ing fight­ing drug traf­fick­ing and other mar­itime crimes, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and search and res­cue op­er­a­tions.

“This is a mile­stone be­cause it opened the com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines be­tween the two agen­cies in­volved in the (South China Sea),” Philip­pine Coast Guard spokesman Ar­mand Balilo told AFP.

Xu Lip­ing, a se­nior re­searcher of South­east Asian stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said that Duterte’s re­marks showed his dis­sat­is­fac­tion to­ward what he called the un­equal re­la­tion­ship be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Manila. Duterte aims to safe­guard his coun­try’s core in­ter­ests and main­tain in­de­pen­dent diplo­macy, he said.

“In Duterte’s opin­ion, if a coun­try has for­eign armies de­ployed on its ter­ri­tory, the lead­ers will hardly have in­de­pen­dence to safe­guard na­tional in­ter­ests,” Xu said.

Li Guo­qiang, a se­nior re­searcher at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences said, how­ever, that there is un­likely to be any sub­stan­tial change in the frame­work of the US-Philip­pines al­liance. “Over­all strat­egy is still based on their na­tional in­ter­ests,” he said. How­ever, Duterte’s com­ments are “a pos­i­tive sign”, Li said.

Chen Qiqi con­trib­uted to this story.

PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.