President Duterte: Let’s Confirm His True Intention of Breaking Away from the US

Is he the king of careless remarks, saying whatever he wants to say? Or does he only seem rude, when in reality he’s a persistent strategist? President Duterte of the Philippines has no set image.

On Oct. 26, Duterte arrived in Japan to speak with Prime Minister Abe. The most important discussion point to concentrate on was the stance that Duterte would take in response to China’s military expansion in the South China Sea.

During the previous administration, the Philippines laid claim to the region and fiercely contested China for it. Japan and the U.S. pressed China to accept the ruling of the arbitration case, which acknowledged the Philippines’ claim.

However, both countries ended up having the rug pulled out from under them when Duterte met with General Secretary Xi Jinping on Oct. 20. As it turns out, the Philippines had received a great amount of economic assistance from China and had ended up filing away the whole issue of the South China Sea.

Keeping in mind the antagonism between Japan and China over the South and East China Seas, Duterte vowed to stand on Japan’s side in the meeting with Prime Minister Abe. He also showed he acknowledged the importance of the arbitration case’s ruling.

At first glance, it seems the Philippines has changed its diplomatic policies once again and returned to cooperating with Japan. The only thing is, its highest priority is its own economic development. As such, the Philippines has adopted a strategy where it gives lip service to both Japan and China in order to draw as much assistance as it possibly can.

On the other hand, it’s clear that Duterte intends to take an anti-American position. In his visits to Japan and China, he gave speeches calling for the withdrawal of American troops stationed in the Philippines. It seems he’s cutting down the diplomatic stance of “U.S. servitude” that the Philippines has taken up to now; instead, Duterte is now looking to carve his own brand of diplomacy by seeking stronger relations with China.

If things go as he says and the Philippines really do alienate themselves from the U.S., the U.S. will lose its foothold in this region – thereby causing a great disruption to its security.

By breaking away so quickly from the U.S., will we Asian countries benefit in the long run, much less the Philippines itself? I’d like for the Philippines to set aside its feelings toward the U.S. and make a careful decision. The Japanese government is watching Duterte to see the brand of diplomacy he chooses, and it hopes to continue to treat the Philippines as a long-time ally.

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