mandag 31. mai 2021

Analysts: Philippine Leader's Inconsistent Policy on South China Sea Hurts Manila

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s mixed messages and “wild swings” in policy-making on the thorny South China Sea issue have cost Manila opportunities to make headway over its territorial claims in the waterway during his five years in power, analysts say.

But Duterte, 76, who is due to leave office next year because the Philippine constitution limits the presidency to a single term, has been mostly consistent in one regard, they say: Since entering the Malacañang Palace in June 2016, the president has brushed off calls for a more aggressive strategy against Beijing’s expansionism in the disputed sea by arguing that the Philippines could not risk going to war with the Asian superpower. “Clearly, his handling of foreign policy is very personalistic and he thinks by being personally friendly and extolling personal friendships, he will be able to influence China’s behavior,” said Jay Batongbacal, director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea at the University of the Philippines.

“It doesn’t work that way, of course, because we’ve seen how despite five years of this style, China has not actually eased up on its activities in the West Philippine Sea, and it only gives China an advantage because the mixed messaging plays into China’s narratives,” Batongbacal told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service. Manila refers to its claimed portions of the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea.