About twenty-two months since his party the PDP got into power in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte’s strategies and utterances have bordered on the revolutionary. In a way, I like the offensive rhetoric against the Western powers and in another vein; I think his undiplomatic posturing is beginning to get to a certain tipping point. The interests of the West in the South China Sea area cannot be over-emphasised and in actuality, it’s particularly more important to the United States and Europe than the Philippines.
At the very core of that large expanse of water is an international waterway with a global trade capacity of about five trillion US Dollars yearly. If China ends up controlling the entire stretch of this trade route including its over-flight, global trade to Europe and the United States will become very expensive. This is the single main reason why the West was supportive of the Philippines and they were prodding China to respect the decision of the Permanent Arbitration Council favouring the former.
For Duterte’s, not wanting to be subservient to the West is a welcome strategy and he has reiterated that he will be pursuing an independent foreign policy devoid of meddling by the world powers. He’s so determined on wanting to negotiate with China directly as opposed to being confrontational which is a stratagem the West wanted for the most part. The judgment the Philippines got from the PAC in their favour has a bit of technicality — lack of enforcement mechanisms on the decision. So, it seems like a victory without a victory.Read More »