in the Center of Asian Realignment
January 23, 2017 "Information
- Philippines, for decades a limping invalid, poor and
suffering from countless ailments, is now suddenly
finding itself at the vanguard, reshuffling the entire
Asia Pacific, sending Western imperialists packing.
In Manila, where
the US used to roam unopposed, now Russian warships are
calling on goodwill and symbolic visits.
On January 6 2017,
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte boarded the
Russian anti-submarine combat vessel Admiral Tributs,
chatted with its officers, and then declared, loudly and
clearly: “Friends, long live! That’s from the heart; I
hope you can come back more often.”
Russians will be happy to come back!
(AP) reported on January 6:
Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who accompanied Duterte
on the ship tour, expressed optimism about “the
start of a partnership” between the two countries’
defense establishments when he met with Russian navy
officials Thursday night.
common aspirations for regional and global peace and
security enable us to become good partners,
cooperating and coordinating towards tranquil and
safe seas for all,” Lorenzana said on board the
He said during
his trip to Russia in early December, he agreed with
Russian defense officials to finalize a memorandum
of understanding that will be the basis of future
military engagements, including joint military
exercises, so it can be signed during Duterte’s
planned trip to Russia…”
openly admires Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is
planning to visit Moscow in April and he has already
expressed his hope that Russia would become his
country’s ‘ally and protector’.
The Philippines is
also rapidly moving closer to China. There is
significant improvement of bilateral relationships.
Tension over disputed territories in the South China Sea
is being gradually defused, and Manila is increasingly
considering Beijing as its new and powerful ally,
investor and partner, definitely not as an enemy.
While he is
lashing at the US, the EU and the UN, (calling the
former US President Barack Obama “son-of-a-whore”, and
telling him to “go to hell!”), Mr. Duterte defines China
as “the kindest nation”.
This sort of
rhetoric, let alone policies, can never be overlooked or
forgiven by the West.
consisting of leading Philippine Academics, Eduardo and
Teresa Tadem, explained the new direction of their
country’s foreign policy:
trend is clear: away from the West, towards China
and Russia. We think that he [Duterte] will soon
reach a territorial agreement with China. Plenty of
goodwill is now coming from President Xi Jinping.
Things are done quietly, but some great concessions
are already visible: our fishermen are allowed to
return to the disputed area. China is pledging
foreign aid, investment, and it is promising to make
our railways work again.”
Reynaldo Ileto, a leading Filipino historian, is
concerned about Duterte’s survival, should he move too
quickly with the regional realignment:
cannot break up with the United States too abruptly…
he’d be killed.”
For a while, in
Manila, we were discussing the pattern established; the
way the West treats the ‘rebellious’ countries and their
governments: Ukraine, Brazil, and even the former
President of the Philippines, Gloria Arroyo.
closer to China”, explained Dr. Ileto: “They got her
indicted for corruption. Only Duterte managed to release
China, even provoking it into a military conflict, has
been the mainstay of US foreign policy in Asia, at least
during the later years of the Obama administration. This
dangerous trend will most likely continue, even
accelerate, since Donald Trump has already taken office.
Duterte’s stubborn determination to reach a peaceful
arrangement with China may put him squarely on the hit
list of the Western Empire.
Simbulan from the Department of Social Sciences of the
University of the Philippines confirms what Dr. Ileto
Duterte moves too fast, he will be overthrown, by
the military. He is an outsider. Police and army
hold grudges against him. Many top military
commanders here were trained by the US, and often
even corrupted by the US. Duterte’s anti-US and
anti-imperialist policy goes beyond rhetoric; it is
real. He is confrontational, he is against the US
foreign policy towards the Philippines and the
Duterte is not only a self-proclaimed socialist, he is
also a pragmatist.
For him, this is
the best time to take advantage of confusion caused by
the upcoming administration of Donald Trump and its
frequent anti-Asian outbursts.
Japan’s MP, Shinzo
Abe, is looking for new allies in the Asia Pacific and
beyond. His country is in disarray, horrified by Trump
and his doctrines.
China and Russia
may be Mr. Duterte’s two new soul mates, but the deep
pockets of Tokyo cannot be fully neglected either.
During his two-day
visit to the Philippines, Mr. Abe pledged to provide 1
trillion yen ($8.7 billion) in funding and investment.
He also promised to assist with deteriorated
infrastructure, and to help the Philippines with the
maritime security vessels and aircraft. Japan is the
Philippines’ largest provider of aid, a substantial
source of remittances.
Japan’s help is
not expected to be altruistic. It is clearly understood
by the analysts that Mr. Abe is now using his subtle
diplomatic skills and financial incentives in order to
seduce President Duterte into returning back to the
US-Japan camp, and even abandoning the new alliance that
is being presently forged between the Philippines,
China, Russia and possibly Vietnam.
It is a complex
and dangerous game, which at the end of the road may
lead to a war, even to a global conflict. There is
absolutely no doubt on which side Japan has been
Both Japan and
the Philippines have territorial disputes with China,
but while the Philippines is lately opting for
compromise and peaceful settlement, Japan is
increasingly choosing a confrontational path.
PM Shinzo Abe
is well aware of the fact that later this year, the
Philippines will be hosting the ASEAN meeting and
therefore in a position to control the focus and
influence the language of the joint communiqués. That is
why he is willing to eat simple cakes and (at least
metaphorically) sing his sweet and seductive songs in
Duterte’s humble home in Davao.
It is highly
unlikely that President Duterte would scale down his
cooperation with Beijing just in order to get his hands
on a few more secondhand coastguard vessels, or for an
extra dose of foreign aid. However, he is likely to
continue maintaining his close relationship with Tokyo,
as his country has been doing for decades. To emphasize
it, he declared during his meeting with the PM Shinzo
Tokyo, I said that Japan deserves its own rightful
place in the constellation of the Philippines’
friends… Tonight, let me reiterate that Japan is a
friend closer than a brother. That means that Japan
is a friend unlike any other.”
Perhaps, or maybe
This is an
extremely critical moment for Asia. China and Russia are
rising, while old allies of the West, including Japan,
South Korea and Taiwan are either in decline or in
distress. The Philippines and Vietnam are calculating
their next moves. Thailand, Malaysia and even Indonesia
are suddenly uncertain about their previously staunch
Father of the
imperialist ‘Pivot to Asia’, President Barack Obama, has
stepped down. Aggressive and anti-Asian leader Donald
Trump is on to the throne. When it comes to the Empire
and its involvement in Asia, things are getting from bad
It is clear that
the West is not willing to tolerate the leadership of
Beijing even on China’s own continent.
Now Washington has
to deal with one more obstacle to its complete rule.
Once fully obedient and submissive, a poor former US
colony, the Philippines, is suddenly roaring, flexing
its muscle, negotiating independently for the best deals
available, and searching for its own destiny. Just one
year ago all this would be unimaginable, but it is
The entire Asian
continent is watching and so is, most likely, the entire
political, military and intelligence establishment of
The process is
very quick (dangerously quick, say many in Manila), and
Washington can hardly keep up with the changes.
President Duterte is governing his complex country for
only six months, and there are already many fundamental
are visiting Manila and future joint exercises are being
discussed, even planned. China and the Philippines are
talking peace, friendship, cooperation and even
railways. Vietnam and the Philippines are moving closer.
Japan is suddenly coming as a humble friend, not as an
Philippines, 2017 will be decisive: the country will
establish itself as one of the main catalysts of the
changes in Asia, or it could collapse, be destroyed,
from outside or from inside, with substantial external
Andre Vltchek is a
philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative
journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens
of countries. Three of his latest books are
revolutionary novel “Aurora”
and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing
Lies Of The Empire”
Against Western Imperialism”.
View his other books here. Andre is making films for
teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. After having lived in Latin
America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides
in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work
around the world. He can be reached through his website
expressed in this article are solely those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
Information Clearing House.