South China Sea Dispute: Rodrigo Duterte Lured By China’s Money?

Following the contradicting statements issued by the incoming President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte over the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, speculations that China has been trying to lure the new chief executive with its money are growing.


China has been trying to continue its dominance in the highly contested territory by rallying support from other nations in its position to ignore the case filed by the Philippines in the United Nations tribunal in The Hague.

It was reported that Duterte’s sudden openness to talking with China bilaterally, if the latter would build railways in his country, further inflame speculations of China’s cold cash doing its trick in the region, according to a report from the NDTV. Not to mention the recent show of support from more than 50 countries from Africa and the Middle East.

Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore professor Ian Storey, said it’s not China that causes or worsens the disunity in the ASEAN region. Apart from the possible involvement of Chinese money in the equation, the United States’ hypocrisy is also to be blamed, plus, the disunity that ASEAN-member states have shown earlier when it retracted its previously issued communiqué.

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“China didn’t create the disunity in ASEAN, but it does exploit the divisions and uses its economic clout to try to get its way. China didn’t want ASEAN to in any way support the arbitration process,” Storey was quoted as saying by the NDTV.

Meanwhile, Duterte told local reporters Tuesday that he’s still weighing in his administration’s official stance on the issue, while the country awaits the decision of the International Court of Arbitration. Duterte said he would base his next step on the court’s decision whether he would talk to China bilaterally or continue the arbitration.

According to a report from local news website Rappler, Duterte publicly announced China’s offer to build railways, which would connect the capital Manila and the city of Clark in Pampanga, north of Manila. Duterte said China offered to build the railways in just two years.

“The ambassador said, ‘We will do the railway immediately and we will solve your Clark-Manila railway. We’ll use the shortest way.’ I don’t know how they’ll do it. But we will complete it in two years, Can you match the offer? Because if you cannot match the offer, I will accept the goodwill of China,” Duterte was quoted as saying by Rappler referring to the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua.

Also Read: South China Sea War: Vietnamese Fighter Jet Goes Missing In Disputed Region

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