President Rodrigo Duterte’s just-concluded visit to China is perhaps one of the best early moves of the administration.
He did not come in a jet ski, as he had once joked, to assert our claim over territory that our giant neighbor says has been its own for centuries. Rather, Mr. Duterte visited as a tried and tested friend, ready to bend over backwards and alienate all others just so we could show how loyal we are to China.
Just imagine the wonders that warming relations between our two countries will bring.
Filipino fishermen will now have access to the waters off our own territory now that the Chinese appear more willing to allow them there.
There will be billions of dollars in soft loans that available for the Philippines—this would be great for the various infrastructure projects that the Duterte administration has planned for the Philippines. His statements on being mendicants do not apply to China.
Our fruit exports, previously banned from China, are allowed in again. This is wonderful news for our banana and pineapple farmers.
Joint exploration of resources will also be helpful to us, because by ourselves we do not have the capability to see how rich our own resources could be.
Finally, it is a relief to know that the animosity shown by the previous administration to the Chinese has now been tempered by Mr. Duterte’s more amicable approach. This definitely reduces tension in the area and allows us to coexist with our neighbor—talk about geopolitical security.
And what of the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration saying that China’s claim does not have basis in law? We don’t know. Maybe it is too soon to rock the boat by ensuring that it is enforced. After all, our friends the Chinese did not even acknowledge the jurisdiction of the PCA over the matter.
President Duterte was on his best behavior during his China visit. No curses, no expletives —telling us that he is no loose cannon, that he can calibrate his message and his manner if he wants. And as he was all praises for our giant neighbor, he also took the time to announce a complete break from an erstwhile friend, the US. We shudder to think about the implications, but then again, our minds may just be too finite to fathom the President’s intent.
The men whose job it is to speak for the President and put his words in context have their work cut out for them in the next few days. We try to heed the call to be creative or imaginative—but we fail spectacularly.