World View: Philippines President Duterte Renews Policy of China Appeasement

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte (R) look on during an exchange of agreements at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila on November 20, 2018. - Chinese President Xi Jinping called his visit on November 20 to long-time US ally the Philippines a "milestone", as he …

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Philippines president Duterte renews policy of China appeasement
  • New survey shows that Philippine people are anti-Chinese, pro-American
  • China’s ‘temper tantrum diplomacy’ at the APEC summit meeting

Philippines president Duterte renews policy of China appeasement

Xi Jinping arrives in Manila on Tuesday and receives military honors. (Manila Times)
Xi Jinping arrives in Manila on Tuesday and receives military honors. (Manila Times)

On Tuesday, China’s Communist Party leader Xi Jinping visited Philippines President Rodrigo R. Duterte to sign 29 agreements. The agreements give China permission to drill for oil and gas in Philippine territorial waters.

Duterte has never made a secret of the reason why he has repeatedly acceded to Xi’s demands and why he has been giving up Philippine sovereignty to Scarborough Shoal and to other parts of the South China Sea: He gave in to China because China threatened him militarily if he did not comply.

In fact, in May of last year, Duterte recounted a conversation with Xi Jinping that made the threat explicit. Xi said that if the Philippines drills for oil and gas in its own territorial waters, then China will go to war. Duterte concluded: “Are they willing to fight? Because if they are willing to fight, we are. But why would I do that? It will result in a massacre and it will just destroy everything.”

So Duterte appeased China and gave in to all of China’s demands.

Another part of Duterte’s 2016 agreement with Xi was that China would provide $24 billion in loans and investment for infrastructure overhaul. Duterte used this promise of money from China to sell the appeasement to the people of the Philippines. However, a recent analysis revealed that China has only come through with a small portion of the promised investments. According to one Philippines analyst: “Duterte’s naivety with China has been a slam dunk strategic coup for China, no doubt about it.”

The 29 agreements that Xi and Duterte signed on Tuesday are being described as “broad or vague, from cooperating in education, culture and industrial park development to jointly promoting infrastructure, agriculture cooperatives and establishing sanitation protocols for shipping coconuts.” Of the 38 projects that Xi and Duterte agreed to in 2016, only four of them were among the commitments made on Tuesday.

Of particular significance is that one of the 29 deals is related to oil and gas development in Philippines territorial waters. The Philippines should receive 100 percent of the benefit, but China agreed to enter into a 60-40 joint exploration arrangement with the Philippines. Under the agreement, Manila will receive 60 percent of the oil and natural gas deposits while Beijing will get the remaining 40 percent.

It remains to be seen whether China will honor that agreement, or will renege on it and demand 100 percent of the oil and gas deposits for itself. Reuters and Manila Times and Reuters and Bloomberg

New survey shows that Philippine people are anti-Chinese, pro-American

As I wrote in 2016, Duterte’s “flip-flop” towards China could not last because polls show that 54 percent of the Philippine people have a favorable view of China, while 92 percent have a favorable view of the United States. Nonetheless, Duterte’s flip-flop still makes sense after Xi Jinping’s threat to massacre the Philippines.

A new survey released on Tuesday by the Philippines social research institution Social Weather Stations (SWS) shows that anti-China sentiment continues to be extremely high.

  • Opposition to government’s inaction on China’s intrusion in claimed territories rises to 84 percent, up from 81 percent in June.
  • 86 percent say that it is right to strengthen the military capability of the Philippines, especially the Navy. This is up by 6 points from 80 percent in June.
  • 87 percent say it is important that the Philippines regains control of the islands occupied by China in the South China Sea, up from 69 percent in June.
  • 65 percent are aware of China’s abuses of Filipino fishermen when these they were fishing in Philippines territorial waters. China’s coast guard forced Philippines fishermen to turn over their catch to the Chinese.
  • Percentage of Philippine people having “much trust” in each country: USA 70 percent, Japan 50 percent, Malaysia 40 percent, Israel 38 percent, China 27 percent.

This survey shows a great deal of trust and confidence in the United States, but a great deal of distrust in China, which is not surprising in view of China’s increasingly belligerent and illegal military actions in the South China Sea. Duterte’s policies of increasing appeasement of China’s demands are creating a potentially explosive situation that could lead to conflict in any of a number of scenarios.

And by the way, other surveys have shown that the Chinese people have a great deal of contempt for the people of the Philippines. In 2012, a Chinese television anchor “accidentally” claimed that the Philippines “is China’s inherent territory and the Philippines belongs to Chinese sovereignty, this is an indisputable fact.” The statement was later retracted, but it illustrates the state of mind of the Chinese people toward the Philippines.

It is a core principle of Generational Dynamics that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people. So in this case, war is inevitable because the Chinese people want a war.

Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump have something in common. They are both aware that China is headed for war with their respective countries. In both cases, their policies are little understood by the mainstream media, but they make perfect sense when seen as an attempt, perhaps even a desperate attempt, to try to prevent that war, and the resulting world war, from occurring. I am not going to criticize policies whose purpose is to prevent a world war, even if a world war is 100 percent certain. Social Weather Survey (Philippines) and Coconuts Manila

China’s ‘temper tantrum diplomacy’ at the APEC summit meeting

In my recent article on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit, held in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea (PNG), over the weekend, I described some incidents of extremely arrogant, belligerent behavior of Chinese officials at the meeting. ( “19-Nov-18 World View — APEC meeting ends in disarray after harsh US-China disagreements”)

However, it turns out that China’s behavior was far worse than I had described. An article by Josh Rogin, who traveled with Vice President Mike Pence to the conference, described China’s “temper tantrum diplomacy, which was a series of aggressive, bullying, paranoid, and weird stunts to try to exert dominance and pressure everyone into succumbing to its demands.

China’s “weird stunts” included the following:

  • China filibustered to prevent a joint statement from being issued. When it was, to the disgust of the other diplomats, Chinese officials broke out in applause.
  • China banned all but Chinese media from Xi’s meeting with leaders of eight Pacific nations, even though many of the international journalists already had credentials.
  • Internet service crashed just as Mike Pence started speaking, and mysteriously came back on just as Pence was finishing. It is believed that the Chinese were behind this, but it cannot be proven.
  • They barged into the foreign ministry office and only left when the police arrive.
  • They barged into other meetings and yelled about countries “scheming” against China.

The more that I write about China, the more the message always comes through of the extreme contempt that the Chinese people have for other people – not just Americans, but also people from the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, India, Australia, and pretty much everywhere else. This is an extremely dangerous situation that will not continue in this way for much longer. Washington Post and White House

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, Xi Jinping, Philippines, Rodrigo R. Duterte, United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, South China Sea, Scarborough Shoal, Social Weather Stations, SWS, Japan, Malaysia, Israel, Josh Rogin, Mike Pence, Papua New Guinea, PNG, China, Australia, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit, APEC
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