As expected, President Xi Jinping's historic state visit to the Philippines was filled with bonhomy and ambitious statements. With the…
As expected, President Xi Jinping’s historic state visit to the Philippines was filled with bonhomy and ambitious statements.
With the south-eastern country that appears as an unlikely crown jewel of the Chinese leader’s “peripheral diplomacy” strategy, the geopolitical efforts have been high.
No Chinese leader has ever come to this close to eradicate the Philippines from the American influence field. Xi was eager to cement the rapid transformation of recent years in the bilateral relations, especially under the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Moving forward, however, is the challenge for the two newfound partners to translate their high hopes for a sustainable 21
st century partnership to a geopolitical reality through concrete agreements and institutionalized cooperation.
Just prior to his visit to Manila, the Chinese leader wrote a publication, published by Xinhua, which emphasized the rapid change in Philippine China relations. “Our relationships have now seen a rainbow after the rain,” explained the paragraph.
Together with the Philippines and China, despite all this year’s opening years, one of the most toxic relations in Asia has been.
As a result, there was hardly any institutionalized communication between Manila and Beijing in previous years, especially under former Philippine president Benigno Aquino, who pursued a more confrontational approach to seafarers in the South China Sea.
China’s China as an aggressor chose the former Philippine government to strengthen its defense relations with traditional allies such as the United States, Japan and Australia.
Washington gave an enhanced strategic footprint in the Philippines through new defense agreements while taking the unprecedented step of suing China at an arbitration in The Hague over South Ch
The result was a period of intense mutual akrimoni, with Xi and Aquino who never managed to hold a formal bilateral summit over the years. Today, however, the quality and direction of relations between the two countries have changed, unrecognizable.
In a big step from the past past, China and the Philippines agreed to upgrade their bilateral ties in a strategic partnership during Xi’s visit. 19659002] “Right now, the president had a friendly, deep and productive meeting,” Xi said at a joint press conference with Duterte.
” [We] agreed to raise our relationship
Xi also realized that the ongoing approach was real because it was based on a common vision and a clear course of relations between China and the Philippines.
19659002] With the Philippines as a decisive swi Xi, expressed its delight in how improved bilateral relations would send “a strong message to the world that our two countries are partners in seeking common development.”
Call the two neighbors’ natural partners with one common destiny, “he said,” China continues to do its modest best to help and support the Philippines. “
Much to the delight of Xi, Xi stressed Chinese help in areas close to Dutert’s heart, namely “lending a hand against your drug fight and the fight against terrorism, to help repair roads and bridges in Marawi and build new infrastructure where “after a month’s long siege of terrorist elements,
Duterte, in turn, welcomed the “positive momentum” in relations between China and the Philippines, as well as “deepen the confidence and trust [between] our governments.” He described Xi’s visit as a “landmark” that had “become a new page” and launched a “new chapter on openness and cooperation” for the two neighboring countries.
The relationship between the Philippines and China will depend on the actualization of major Chinese infrastructure projects in the Philippines as well as reaching a compromise against the South China Sea.
In addition to the rhetorical blossoms, however, the two sides did not fall into a diplomatic breakthrough in two important areas of interest.
Although Xi underlines how the Philippines and China “have many common interests in the South China Sea,” a joint exploration agreement, as expected previously, has not arisen.
For the past year, Duterte has put forward the concept of “co-ownership” of the contested resources in the South China Sea as a progress. China has, in turn, proposed joint development agreements as a mechanism for breaking the deaths in the area.
However, the two sides only wrote a general memorandum of agreement on oil and gas cooperation, which, according to Philippine Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, was “just a cooperation to explore solutions” on “how we can enjoy the resources” in the South China Sea.
The restrictions of the Pact were likely due to the rise of the domestic opposition in Manila to such a deal, which means that the parties are still investigating a potentially joint exploration agreement. In a joint senate resolution, two unspoken opposition legislators called on the government not to sign any agreements that “reduce Philippine’s exclusive rights” in the South China Sea. There was also protest against China in Manila, which reflected liminal antipathy in the country against improved ties.
Further, under the nearly 30 offers signed during the Xi visit, only two projects were indicative of progress in China-assisted infrastructure companies: Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges Project and Davao City Expressway.
Other offers were mainly memoranda of understanding, letters and framework agreements, many of already identified projects. As a result, the opponents were in a hurry to criticize Duterte in order not to ensure large-scale investment from China.
In addition to a shift in the atmosphere of bilateral exchanges, the momentum in the Philippines-China relations will largely depend on the actualization of major Chinese-China infrastructure projects in the Philippines and the completion of a mutually satisfactory compromise in the South China Sea.
Otherwise, this “golden age” of the Philippines-China relations can simply rule out.
Richard Heydarian is a manila-based academic and writer