Entangled in the Web of the Silk Road

The Philippines’ foreign policy turn away from America and towards China signals a shifting world order.

By Juda Jelinek.

The anti-crime politician and mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, took office as the 16th president of the Philippines one year ago, on June 30, 2016. Since then, the country has witnessed the extra-judicial killing of an estimated 7,000 people by the state, and Duterte has jeopardized his country’s diplomatic relations with the U.S. by expressing strong anti-American sentiments and evoking anti-colonialist nationalist rhetoric. He has taken a more pragmatic approach in reconciling Chinese-Philippine relations, but controversially, Duterte has put to rest the question of enforcing the long sought-after verdict of the International Arbitration Court, which ruled in favor of the Philippines regarding the South-Chinese sea dispute. In other words, he’s giving the Spratly Islands to Beijing.

These foreign policy actions are in sharp contrast to those pursued by the administration of former President Corazon Aquino, who strongly promoted Philippine maritime interests in the South-China Sea and sought a strategic military alliance with the USA to ensure the geopolitical power balance in the Southeast Asian region. These mark fundamental changes to Philippine foreign policy that will have a substantial effect on world politics by reconfiguring the unstable order associated with the Southeast Asian region, which may ultimately result in increased global insecurity. The change of the Philippines’ foreign policy towards China is part of a larger and more powerful phenomena: the inescapable end of …

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