Philippines – Geopolitical Game-Changer?

Be prepared for concerted personal attacks on Philippine president Duterte by western mainstream media! How long before we start seeing and hearing well known stories about “Butcher of …”, concerns about democracy and other well known regularly used accusations by CNN, BBC and followers.


Duterte’s Change of Heart

The Philippine leadership has signaled a tremendous shift in the country’s foreign policy, opening the door to closer cooperation between Manila and Beijing. US journalist Stephen Kinzer believes that Manila’s change of heart is a blowback for the US’ old colonial policy toward the Philippines.

Shifting the goalposts Manila, America’s longstanding ally, has turned its back on Washington and opened the door to Sino-Philippine cooperation. “I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia. With that, in this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States. Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told a business forum in the course of his four-day state visit to China, as quoted by Reuters. Predictably, Duterte’s remarks have triggered deep concerns in Washington.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby signaled Friday that the remarks are “inexplicably at odds with the very close relationship” between the United States and the Philippines, the Washington Post reported.

Although Philippine Trade Minister Ramon Lopez later tried to downplay Duterte’s statement in an interview with CNN, by saying that in terms of economic ties Manila won’t stop the trade and investment collaboration with the West, it has become clear that the country has made a shift in its foreign policy. Larisa Efimova, a specialist in Southeast Asian studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), believes that the country will not abandon cooperation with the US, while trying to diversify its contacts.

Commenting on the matter, Stephen Kinzer of Boston Globe assumed that US-Philippine joint patrol operations and other military activities in the South China Sea “now seem uncertain.”

“The new Filipino government has declared that it will do precisely what the United States does not want: recognize ‘geopolitical realities’ and begin talks with China aimed at ‘peacefully settling our disputes.’ There is no danger that these talks could lead to Chinese dominance over the Philippines, Foreign Minister Yasay insisted. Painful experience under the thumb of a ‘white big brother,’ he said, has produced a national resolve never to allow ‘any other nation to bully us’,” Kinzer underscored. According to the journalist, what Washington is faced with is a “blowback for American sins in the Philippines.” “Relations between our countries began with shattering violence. Americans helped crush Spanish power over the Philippines in 1898, but rather than allow independence, the United States took the islands as a colony,” Kinzer pointed out, adding that as it turns out “invasions and occupations leave deep scars.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said his country was not severing ties with the United States

BEIJING (Sputnik) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said his country was not severing ties with the United States but shifting its foreign policy in a different direction.

“It is not severance of ties. You say severance of ties, you cut the diplomatic relations. I cannot do that. Why? It is in the best interest of my country that we maintain that relationship. Why? Because there are many Filipinos in the United States. Well, Americans of Filipino ancestry. Why? Because the people of my country [are] not ready to accept. I said separation — what I was really saying was separation of a foreign policy,” Duterte was quoted as saying by CNN during a press conference in the country’s Davao City. On Thursday, Duterte said during a visit to Beijing that his country was separating from the United States in order to realign with China. White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said the United States had not received any official request to change the nature of its relationship with the Philippines.

Source:

WASHINGTON — When the Philippines appeared to jilt its old ally the United States in favor of China this week, it repudiated not only President Obama and his “pivot” to Asia, but also Hillary Clinton, who made reaching out to the region her signature project as his secretary of state.

The White House said on Friday that it was troubled by the statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte during a visit to Beijing, in which he announced a “separation” of the Philippines from the United States, a treaty ally, and said it was “time to say goodbye, my friend.”

Mrs. Clinton has not addressed the turmoil between Manila and Washington since last month, when she said Mr. Obama was right to cancel a meeting with Mr. Duterte after he had unleashed a profanity-laden diatribe against Mr. Obama. But a senior official in the Clinton campaign said she shared the White House’s concerns about the Philippine leader’s latest statements.

If anything, a rift would be even more personal for Mrs. Clinton than for Mr. Obama. As secretary of state, she laid the groundwork for the president’s focus on Asia and, in particular, his reassertion of America’s presence in Southeast Asia. In 2011, she stood on the deck of a Navy warship in Manila Bay to dramatize support for an ally then entangled in territorial disputes with China over reefs and islands in the South China Sea.

Source:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/22/us/politics/philippines-china-us-asia-pivot.html?_r=0

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