February 24, 2018, 10:14 pm
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PRESIDENT Duterte courted scathing criticisms from the usual detractors because of his recent policy statement on China, that he won’t at the moment disturb the status quo in connection with the man-made islands in the South China Sea which Western sources say are being speedily militarized.

The President told reporters in Davao City over the weekend that any move by the Philippines in protest against China’s actions might be viewed negatively by this giant neighbor. “This is not the time to be fighting over the South China Sea because it will only lead to war,” Duterte said.

The Philippine stance on the South China Sea under the Duterte administration has not changed since the day the President, early in his term, affirmed that he will not insist on citing the arbitral court ruling that gives the country sovereign rights over the shoals and reefs that are also claimed by China.

Instead, Duterte opted for an independent foreign policy which effectively pushes the nation nearer China and farther away from its usual partner, the United States. China, meanwhile, welcomes this development: a complete turnaround from a close-minded, American-leaning Noynoy Aquino to a practical, pragmatic Digong Duterte.

The US, or at least certain sectors of the denizens in Washington and Wall Street, are smarting from this affirmation of independence and rationality by our President. It goes against the interest of America when China is perceived to widen or expand its sphere of influence in the Asia-Pacific region, which for decades has been dominated by the US.

Duterte is willing to set aside issues that will surely jeopardize all projects and plans of his administration to lift the nation from poverty and stagnation, many of which are being financed by China.

The US does not countenance this, and taunts Duterte through like-minded characters and groups such as Justice Antonio Carpio, Bayan Muna and Pamalakaya, criticizing the President for being soft on China as if they have a monopoly on patriotism.

They gloss over the fact that the nation will only suffer, with losses in lives, property and face, if our leaders will proceed headlong and go to war against a much bigger and stronger adversary. 

China itself, under President Xi Jinping, has firmly declared that it follows a path of peaceful development and works to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

President Xi told the recent 19th Communist Party Congress, “China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit and uphold its fundamental foreign policy goal of preserving world peace and promoting common development.”

This is the assurance which Duterte and his spokesman, Harry Roque referred to when they cited China’s above-board dealings with the Philippines over the disputed waters.

Duterte correctly sees those waters as part of the “race between two superpowers” and the nation, for the time being, had better distance itself from the fray.
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