Saturday, September 24, 2022

Why did the Philippines choose America over China

TAIPEI – The Philippine government’s decision to reinstate its Visiting Forces agreement with the US military after 18 months of threats shows Beijing did not give the Southeast Asian country enough to maintain friendship or excite ordinary Filipinos It was, analysts say.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced during US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Manila on July 29 that he would continue with the 22-year-old agreement, commonly known as the VFA. Duterte had said since February 2020 that he planned to leave the deal.

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Experts say Duterte, who took office in 2016, realized that China would not fulfill its promise of $33 billion in aid and investment that year in the fast-growing infrastructure-thirsty Southeast Asian archipelago.

Analysts say a flap of more than 220 Chinese boats capsized off a reef in March and April, further irritating officials in Manila, disputed by the two countries, reminding them of a wider maritime sovereignty dispute with Beijing. Gives, analysts say.

Yun Sun, senior fellow and co-director of the East Asia Program, said: “If China had delivered on its promises of infrastructure and investment, it would give Duterte a more solid foundation and a solid push to stick to VFA.” could have given.” Stimson Center in Washington. “It has been widely observed that the Chinese promises were never really implemented for Duterte.”

Local media said that by the beginning of 2019, only $4.7 billion of China’s promises had reached Manila.

The Visiting Forces Agreement provides for discussions on arms sales, intelligence exchange and military cooperation. It allows US troops to access Philippine soil for military exercises aimed at regional security and local humanitarian operations. Those measures strengthened the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries.

The United States ruled the Philippines for more than five decades before being granted its independence after World War II. For Washington today, the Philippines represents one of a series of Western Pacific allies that can work together to investigate Chinese maritime expansion.

Sun said Duterte had probably agreed to a military deal in view of the presidential election due in early 2022. He is only allowed a six-year term in office, but domestic media reports state that his daughter Sarah Duterte wants to run for office. Based on opinion polls from 2016, Quezon City-based research organization Social Weather Stations has said that most Filipinos, including the armed forces, prefer the United States over China.

Sean King, vice president of Park Strategies Political Consultancy, said, “I suspect that his main motivation in making peace with Washington, upon his exit from office, is to cover himself politically at home, whether he will ever do anything about anything.” want to run for.” New York.

Duterte, a longtime anti-US firebrand, ordered the military deal to be terminated after the US government revoked visas for a Filipino senator and former police chief, sparking outrage overseas in a deadly anti-drug campaign. played an important role in. Last year, Duterte indicated that he favors ties with China and Russia.

Sino-Philippine relations today hinge mainly on competing claims in the 3.5 million square kilometer South China Sea, which is rich in fisheries and underwater energy reserves. China has worried the Philippines, among other Southeast Asian maritime claimant states, over the past decade by landfilling islets for military installations.

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The Sino-Philippine dispute eased in 2016 after a World Arbitration Court ruling against Beijing’s maritime claims by Manila and Duterte pursued a new friendship with China.

Earlier this year, the Philippine government approached Washington to renegotiate the terms of the VFA. Eduardo Arral, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s School of Public Policy, said officials in Manila wanted the deal to guarantee US assistance in defending Philippine maritime claims. Aral said US officials have only made verbal commitments since the presidency of Barack Obama.

“They always give assurances, but those assurances are not reliable because they are not written in the VFA,” he said. “There should be some clarity in the words of the VFA itself.”

The two sides did not indicate last week whether the deal would be renegotiated.

Sun said the Chinese media, which covered the pending termination of the US-Philippine deal, has been mostly quiet since July 29. The official Xinhua news agency reported the VFA’s re-approval last month and noted that Manila’s plans to cancel it had been suspended three times.

Beijing is now frustrated, Sun said, as it was trying to “drive a nail” between the United States and its allies.

King said saving Duterte’s deal would help Washington coordinate allies in Asia.

“By reneging on the US defense burden-sharing deals with South Korea and Japan earlier this year, as well as maintaining the Visiting Forces Agreement, it is understandable that US President (Joe) Biden is one of America’s friends and allies. are getting as our (USA). ) square off with Beijing for influence and position in the region,” King said.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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