Via Trefor Moss at the WSJ;
Mr. Duterte’s gambit is strategically risky, Western diplomats in Manila and analysts said, as he puts his country’s alliance with the U.S. on the line to pursue an untested relationship with a government that Manila saw until very recently as its chief security threat.There is a school of foreign aid thought that promises that if nothing else, our money buys us good will. As the chart shows, notsomuch in The Philippines.
“It’s a strange negotiating tactic,” said Gregory Poling of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank. Mr. Duterte is “unilaterally abandoning the only leverage he has over Beijing—the U.S. security umbrella.”
An official at the U.S. Embassy in Manila said: “We will continue to honor our alliance commitments and treaty obligations and expect the Philippines to do the same.”
Zhang Baohui, a professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, said that for Beijing, “the strategic payoffs will be huge” if Manila pulls away from Washington, noting that Mr. Duterte is being honored with a full state visit.
The economic rationale behind Mr. Duterte’s Chinese strategy is understandable: He wants Chinese funding and technical expertise to build desperately needed infrastructure. Mr. Duterte has said he wants Beijing to build new railways on Luzon and Mindanao islands. He also said Beijing has offered him a 25-year loan on easy terms to fund arms purchases, although he gave no details and China hasn’t commented.Is he trying to play both sides? Perhaps.
China has largely spurned the Philippines over the past few years, even as it pledged investments of tens of billions of dollars for other Asian countries as part of its “Belt and Road” regional infrastructure program.
Has he made the decision to try to get in the good graces with the dragon near by, as opposed to the fickle friend across the big water? Perhaps.
Having watched this guy for awhile, I'm not so sure that we need foreign policy hands to try to understand why - perhaps we need a forensic psychologist.
They guy has issues.
Mr. Duterte was elected on an anticrime platform, promising to extend nationwide the bloody campaign he waged against drug gangs as mayor of Davao City. For weeks he has lashed out with profanities at U.S. and other Western critics of his bloody campaign against suspected drug dealers, while also berating Washington for its supposed failures as an ally.
In Manila, diplomats privately expressed dismay and outrage at Mr. Duterte’s claim that billions in American and European aid amounted to mere “crumbs” that insulted the Filipino people, even as he heaped praise on China for its generosity in helping to build a single drug-rehabilitation center north of the capital.
While in Beijing, Mr. Duterte plans to visit “activities related to anti-drugs,” amid talks on bilateral cooperation in drug-control efforts, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Western officials noted that unlike Washington, Beijing won’t criticize Mr. Duterte’s human-rights record.