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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion -> 
Duterte’s dramatic show
    2016-10-17  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Wu Guangqiang

    jw368@163.com

    IF there is something predictably unpredictable, that would be international relations. Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying that there were no perpetual friends, nor perpetual enemies, only perpetual interest.

    The recently elected president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has just staged such a play with surprising plot twists.

    Since his inauguration as president, Duterte has taken many off guard, especially the Philippines’ long-time ally, the U.S., with a blitz of rants, insults and ultimatums aimed at the U.S. president and his nation.

    He has called U.S. President Barack Obama a “son of whore,” told Obama “to go to hell,” and threatened to kick out about 600 U.S. troops based in the country and cancel all military exercises with the U.S., and even warned that his government could abandon its decades-old alliance with the Americans.

    And weeks of heaped abuse soon proved not mere venting, as Manila has backed its words with action. On Oct. 7, Philippine defense minister announced the suspension of joint naval patrols with the U.S. in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

    The surprising move may be just the prelude to more dramatic changes. Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said one day earlier that Duterte wanted to free his country from the “shackles of dependency” on the U.S. and that he was “compelled to realign” Philippine foreign policy and not submit to U.S. demands and interests.

    On the surface, Duterte’s open hostility to Washington has stemmed from his wrath at the criticism from the U.S. and other Western governments over his tough war on drugs, which has allegedly claimed lives of thousands of people, or drug dealers, as the authorities call them.

    But to attribute the major policy shift to a top leader’s personal temperament is illogical. After all, the U.S.-Philippine alliance has 70 years of history and has been seen as a “reliable bedrock.”

    Obviously, it is national interest that prompted Duterte, or the Philippines, to be more accurate, to make adjustments in foreign policy.

    There has always been territorial disputes between China and the Philippines, but neither country had intended to escalate the dispute or to make each other enemies until the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot” from the Middle East to East Asia began a few years ago.

    Washington’s rumbustious “I am back” declaration with increased military buildup in the Asia-Pacific area encouraged a handful of countries in the region, making them believe that with their Big Brother’s support, their chance to mooch off China had come.

    

    A jubilant and cocky Benigno Aquino, the former Philippine president, acting as a willing pawn to Washington, engaged in a series of increasingly provocative acts against China. The provocations climaxed with the Philippines’ “triumph” over the “ruling” made by an “international tribunal” claiming that China’s claims to islands and reefs in the South China Sea were invalid.

    Yet the provocations came to an abrupt halt right after the climax. China will never budge on the sovereignty-and-territory-related matters, so the ruling proved to be a piece of scrap paper. Nor could the massive U.S. naval exercise near the waters of the South China Sea intimidate China, which responded to the U.S. bluff with a massive live-fire drill involving the Navy, Air Force and Rocket Force.

    Not a single ripple was made in the South China Sea despite America’s attempt to make it troubled water. The new Philippine Government must have learned that confrontation and joining cliques would lead to nowhere. Only negotiation and cooperation can benefit contending parties.

    It’s crystal clear that every nation or region that maintains friendly ties with China has benefited from China’s rapid economic growth while all those who antagonize China have swallowed bitter pills.

    It’s simply because as a peace-loving nation, China doesn’t show its strength with aircraft carriers, nor meddles in other nations’ internal affairs. China only seeks mutual growth and prosperity with others on the basis of mutual respect, benefit and reciprocity.

    Duterte will pay a state visit to China from Tuesday to Friday, marking a new chapter in China-Philippine relations.

    Hopefully, Duterte can achieve his goals for the benefit of the Filipino people without outside interference.

    (The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

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