The foreign policy strategy of the Philippines might be changing course. President Rodrigo Duterte has been outspoken regarding his country’s position in international affairs. Duterte recently became the president of the Philippines in June of this year. Since then, he has wasted no time in saying that he is not “a fan of the Americans” and that he wants to reorient the country’s foreign policy. This week, President Rodrigo Duterte is in China on an official visit. This presents a diplomatic opportunity for the two countries to put their differences behind them.
China and the Philippines Relationship Could Recover
The Philippine President visiting China points to the possibility of better understanding between the two countries. Recently, the Philippines and China were involved in a territorial dispute over the South China Sea. This led to tensions in diplomatic relations. Now, the Philippine President wants to put that in the past.
In July of this year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines regarding the territorial dispute. Since then, Rodrigo Duterte has said that he is going to affirm and respect the ruling. He stated that he does not wish to antagonize China. The Philippine President has said that he wants “to maintain good relations with China”. Also, he has said that he is looking to build “an environment where we sit down and talk directly”. With Duterte visiting China, it looks like his strategy is going according to plan.
China’s official state news agency called Duterte’s visit a step in the right direction. The Chinese side is hoping to put an end to years of estrangement between the Philippines and China. The two countries becoming closer is a distinct possibility, as Duterte has previously signaled that he is willing to look for international support elsewhere. The Chinese are looking to meet the newly-elected president of the Philippines with anticipation.
“Should he demonstrate his good faith, the trip will present a long overdue opportunity for the two nations, which enjoy longstanding friendship, to heal the wounds of the past few years and steer their relationship back to the right course.”
Reported China’s state news agency.
Objectives of the Philippines from the Visit
Rodrigo Duterte is going to arrive in Beijing this Tuesday. The Philippine President is going to meet the Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as other Chinese officials this Thursday.
The Philippine side has drafted a proposed joint statement that will probably be the subject of a discussion. The topics that the Philippine delegation wants to see brought up are among others the restoration of permits for agricultural exports by the Philippines. Another issue is China supporting Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against drug traffickers and drug dealers.
The Philippines want to see more cooperation to enhance tourism from China. Since the country relies heavily on income from the tourism industry. Another key area where the Philippines would like to cooperate more closely with China is the Coast Guard. The stated purpose of this would be to avoid any misunderstandings at sea between the two countries.
The two diplomatic teams are still working on the details for the meetings. At this point it is not clear if the joint statement is going to mention the contentious issue of the South China Sea.
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