Rody’s detente

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“Improved relations between both countries came at the most auspicious time with Xi’s more pivotal leadership role.

Imagine a yellow clone of former President Noynoy Aquino holding fort at Malacañang and not President Rody Duterte at this time of heightened tension between the United States and China and the prospects are close to Halloween-like frightening.

Noynoy can be remembered as an irritant to China, kowtowing to the desires of his liberal associate US President Barack Obama whose key policy direction was to box in Asian giant which is a rising threat to American dominance in the region.

A case was filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague to challenge the nine-dash line which was the basis of China’s territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The arbitral court invalidated China’s claim which was interpreted as a victory for Noynoy’s efforts.

It was an empty triumph, however, since the ruling can’t be enforced as China had not recognized the jurisdiction of the court which it considered an outsider in the dispute.
Instead of the distrust and enmity that Noynoy fostered, Rody offered the Chinese to set aside for the moment the sea conflict in exchange for their help in moving the economy forward.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is now in Davao City for a two-day visit and his schedule meetings with economic officials. Wang’s visit also heralds the historic visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping next month.

China is a major financier of the “Build, Build, Build” thrust and the rehabilitation of the war-torn Marawi City.

Several Chinese construction firms also offer to be part of the reconstruction efforts in Marawi.

A crucial part of the visits of Wang and Xi is the cementing of a binding agreement on the WPS dispute.

More than a week ago, the third meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea (BCM) was held in Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

Both sides acknowledged the importance of the BCM as a venue for enhanced and regular dialogue to maintain peace and stability in the disputed areas.

A carefully worded joint statement issued 16 November 2017 stated the contentious maritime issues are not “the sum total of the China-Philippines relations.”

Peace is vital to both the economically advancing neighbors since conflict poses a major disruption in both country’s uptrend. The Philippines and China share the reputation of being among the fastest-growing economies in the region.

Under the emerging bilateral deal of both countries, settlement of disputes will also recognize multilateral bodies but only if these comprise the claimants such as the China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit.

Expected to be concretized in Xi’s visit would be cooperation in areas such as maritime search and rescue, safety, environmental protection and scientific research and fisheries.
The next BCM is scheduled in the country on the first half of next year.

“The pendulum swing in relations from a near confrontation to being Asian brothers was an achievement that was distinctive Rody.

Improved relations between both countries came at the most auspicious time with Xi’s more pivotal leadership role.

Under Xi’s leadership, China had strengthened its battle against corruption to dovetail with Rody’s commitment to end the social scourge.

Steered by the CPC Central Committee with Xi at the core, a series of reform plans was unfurled, including those to streamline Party and state institutions, establish the southern island province of Hainan as a pilot free trade zone, develop Xiong’an New Area and carry out the rural vitalization strategy. These measures injected vigor in industries, better-regulated service sectors and improved people’s livelihood.

After more than two years of Rody, China is now a top market for Philippines products with exports of $940 million or 15.3 percent of the country’s total, based on Philippine Statistics Authority figures.

Chinese tourists to the Philippines in the first three quarters also exceeded the full-year total in 2017 reaching over 970,000, Department of Tourism figures showed.

In contrast, China limited the flow of Philippine goods mainly agricultural products and imposed travel restrictions on the country particularly after the Luneta bus hostage tragedy that resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong tourists due to the incompetent handling of the crisis situation.

The pendulum swing in relations from a near confrontation to being Asian brothers was an achievement that was distinctive Rody.

Noynoy’s and American interests were served by the belligerent policy under the Aquino regime while there is no question on who gained from Rody befriending a neighbor.

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