mandag 24. mai 2021

President Duterte'sBeijing-friendly stance faces rising resistance while more pro-US politicians could rise in 2022

When President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in 2016, many saw his rise as a window of strategic opportunity for China. The populist leader time and again underscored an anti-US and pro-Chinese orientation, presenting Beijing with a near golden opportunity to pull Manila out of Washington’s strategic orbit.

But five years on, Beijing’s rising assertiveness in the South China Sea and challenges to the Philippines’ internationally recognized maritime claims have made it practically impossible for Duterte to advance his Beijing-leaning foreign policy agenda. The Philippine defense establishment, meanwhile, is laying the groundwork for deeper US ties.

Asia Times correspondent Richard Javad Heydarian reported this week on ongoing negotiations to fully restore the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which facilitates the large-scale entry of US troops on Philippine soil. Duterte moved to terminate the agreement in February 2020, but its abrogation has since been delayed twice.