Philippines challenges China’s bullying despite Prez Duterte’s blunders

President Duterte is obsessed with good relations with Beijing ever since taking office in 2016 despite China’s actions against his country

Tony Fernandez |

South China Sea

A view of the South China Sea (Picture courtesy: https://commons.wikimedia.org)

The Philippines seems to have had enough of Chinese bullying despite the fact that President Rodrigo Duterte has been mollycoddling Beijing since 2016 when he came to power. Philippine officials, while releasing pictures of 220 vessels, have alleged that these were Chinese boats moored at the Whitsun Reef. The boomerang-shaped reef is near the western Philippine province of Palawan in the South China Sea.

“We call on the Chinese to stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was quoted on saying on Sunday by the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Part of the Spratly Islands archipelago, the reef is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, though China stakes claim over it. A United Nations tribunal had rejected Beijing’s claim to not just the reef but almost the entire South China Sea, but typically Beijing disregarded the verdict.

In fact, the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that the tribunal’s award “is null and void and has no binding force.” In a statement, it said, “China neither accepts nor recognizes it.”

But China accepts and recognizes the World Trade Organization—and will continue to do so till the international body comes up with something the CCP finds offensive. And, of course, it accepts and recognizes the World Health Organization, for China owns the WHO. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, global body’s director-general till recently, proved to be a competent lackey of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s. First, Tedros helped Xi spread the coronavirus that killed millions of people all over the world and then deflected all blame from Wuhan.

While all this was happening, the global public health mafia and the mainstream media were busy blaming former US president Donald Trump for everything, including his criticism of the WHO. This helped China, whose vileness and belligerence continued to grow. Attack on the Indian soldiers in the Himalayas in June last year was one instance; increased oppression of the Uyghurs and Tibetans was another; and intrusion into the Philippine territory is yet another.

Adding to the Philippines’ problem is President Duterte. He is obsessed with good relations with Beijing ever since taking office in 2016. Sometimes, he appears scared. A couple of years ago, he said, “When Xi says ‘I will fish,’ who can prevent him?” Further, “If I send my marines to drive away the Chinese fishermen, I guarantee you not one of them will come home alive.”

In February this year, Harry Roque, Duterte’s spokesman, told reporters, “We cannot declare war. Not only is it illegal but also because it is impossible to declare war at this point.”

Even Jawaharlal Nehru who was doctrinally and sincerely committed to global peace never sounded cowardly. In fact, it would be grossly unjust to compare a tall statesman like Nehru with Duterte—who is accused of massive human rights violations and who once called former US president Barack Obama as a ‘son of a …..’ Nehru was wounded by his own idealism and the Mao regime’s duplicity; Duterte doesn’t seem beholden to China for some idealistic reasons.

Finally, however, the Philippine regime is responding with vigor—despite Duterte. Hope this continues.

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