Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in the Philippines for a bilateral summit with President Rodrigo Duterte. Talks between the two
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in the Philippines for a bilateral summit with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Talks between the two leaders come a week after Duterte made remarks on the South China Sea that highlighted his willingness to cede control of disputed marine territories to China. While the remarks were made as part of a response to views on military drills in the Sea, they raised concerns about continued Chinese expansion in the area and Duterte’s willingness to defend the Philippines maritime claims. Despite the backing of the international court of arbitration, Duterte has disregarded its legal significance and appeared willing to negotiate with China, a position which has threatened the unity of ASEAN allies who have similar claims.
The legal controversy over Manilla’s new position on the South China Sea threatens to undermine the overtures that Duterte has made in seeking a ‘golden friendship’ with Beijing. His personal overtures to Xi and desire for greater Chinese investment has unnerved ASEAN allies in the region and the US, which has long viewed the Philippines as a major non-NATO ally. Growing domestic pressure on Duterte is also likely to force him to strengthen his position on the South China Sea in the medium-term to counter views that he is conceding too much in the new bilateral relationship with China.
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