Thursday, March 30, 2023

Marcos’ presidency complicates US efforts to counter China

MANILA, Philippines ( Associated Press) – A clear win for Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The presidential election in the Philippines is raising immediate concerns about further erosion of democracy in the region, and could complicate US efforts to quell growing Chinese influence and power in the Pacific.

Marcos, the son of longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos, garnered more than 30.8 million votes in Monday’s election, more than twice that of his nearest rival, according to an unofficial count.

If the results are out, he will take office at the end of June for a six-year term with Sarah DuterteThe daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, as his Vice President.

Duterte, who stepped down with a 67% approval rating, forged close ties with China and Russia, while at times railing against the United States.

He has gone back on many of his threats against Washington, however, a move to abrogate a defense deal between the two countries, and the luster of China’s promise of infrastructure investment has faded, failing which much. Used to be.

Manila-based political scientist Andrea Chloe Wong, a former researcher, said whether the recent trend in relations with the US will continue has a lot to do with President Joe Biden’s push for Marcos’ return to power in the Philippines. How does it respond? Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

“On the one hand you have Biden with respect to geo-strategic interests in the Philippines, and on the other he has to balance American democratic ideals and promotion of human rights,” she said.

“If he chooses to do so, he may have to dismantle the Marcos administration, so it will certainly be a delicate balancing act for the Philippines, and Marcos’ approach to the US will depend on whether Biden is his How will you join?”

His election comes at a time when the US is increasingly focused on the region, based on a strategy unveiled in February To broadly expand US engagement by strengthening a web of security alliances and partnerships, with an emphasis on addressing China’s growing influence and ambitions.

Thousands of US and Filipino armies recently completed one of their largest combat exercises in years, Which demonstrated American shelling in the northern Philippines near its maritime border with Taiwan.

Marcos has been short on specifics about foreign policy, but in interviews he said he wants to pursue closer ties with China, possibly including setting aside a 2016 decision by a tribunal in The Hague that ruled the South China Sea. Almost all historical claims of China were invalidated in ,

China has refused to recognize the ruling, and Marcos said it would not help settle disputes with Beijing, “so that the alternative is not available to us.”

Marcos said in an interview with DZRH radio in January that allowing the US to play a role in trying to resolve territorial disputes with China would be a “recipe for disaster”. He said Duterte’s policy of diplomatic engagement with China “is really our only option.”

Marcos has also said that he will maintain his country’s alliance with the US, but the US support of the administrations that took power after his father’s ouster and the 2011 US District Court in Hawaii held him and his mother in contempt. Relationships are complicated because of finding in. of an order to furnish information on assets in connection with a 1995 human rights class action suit against Marcos Sr.

The court fined him $353.6 million, which was never paid and could complicate his prospects of going to the US in the future.

The US has a long history with the Philippines, which was an American colony for most of the first half of the last century before being granted independence in 1946.

The US closed its last military bases on the Philippines in 1992, but the country’s location on the South China Sea means it remains strategically important, and under the 1951 Collective Defense Treaty, the US would guarantees your support.

Even though the Biden administration may have preferred to work with Marcos’ key rival, Lenny Robredo, “the US-Philippines alliance is vital to the security and prosperity of both countries, especially in the new era of competition with China,” said Gregory B. Poling, director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“Unlike Lenny, with his consistent platform for good governance and development in his country and standing up for China abroad, Marcos is a policy cipher,” Poling said in a research note. “He has avoided presidential debates, avoided interviews, and has remained silent on most issues.”

Poling said Marcos, however, was clear that he would like to try again to improve relations with Beijing.

“But when it comes to foreign policy, Marcos will not have as much room for maneuver as Duterte did,” he said. “Philippines tried an outstretched hand and China cut it. That is why the Duterte government has re-adopted the US coalition and hit Beijing hard over the past two years.

Marcos Sr. was ousted in 1986, when millions took to the streets, bringing an end to his corrupt dictatorship and a return to democracy. But Duterte’s election as president in 2016 marked the return of a strongman-type leader whom voters have now doubled down with Marcos Jr.

Domestically, Marcos, who goes by his childhood nickname “Bongbong”, is widely expected to pick up where Duterte left off, stifling a free press and the outgoing leader’s crude and Cracking down on dissatisfaction with the brash style, his father put an end to his ongoing efforts to recover some of the billions of dollars looted from the state treasury.

But he is unlikely to return to the harsh regime of his father, who declared martial law for most of his regime, said Julio Tehanaki, a professor of political science at Manila’s De La Salle University.

“He doesn’t have the courage or talent or even ruthlessness to be a dictator, so I think what we’ll see is a form of authoritarian-lite or Marcos-lite,” Tehanki said.

The new Marcos government will not mean the end of Philippine democracy, Poling said, “though it may accelerate its decay.”

“The country’s democratic institutions have already been battered by the corrosive six-year Duterte presidency and the rise of online propaganda, as well as decades of oligarchy, corruption and poor governance,” he said.

“The United States would be better served by engagement rather than criticism of the democratic headwinds affecting the Philippines.”

Wong said Marcos’ approach at home could have implications in other countries in the region, where democratic freedoms are being eroded in many places and the Philippines is seen as a positive influence.

“This will have an impact on Philippine foreign policy when it comes to promoting its democratic values, freedoms and human rights, especially in Southeast Asia,” she said. “With the Philippines considered a bastion of democracy in the region, with a strong civil society and noisy media, and with Bongbong Marcos as president, our credibility will be undermined.”


Rising was reported from Bangkok.


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