In a perhaps concerning move on the international level, the Philippines has begun allying themselves with China, despite the country’s longstanding position as the United States’ oldest Asian ally. The move comes as global tensions between the United States and China continue to rise due to both the coronavirus pandemic and foreign policy differences concerning Taiwan and Hong Kong.
According to Axios, the latest move hinting at the Philippines’ Chinese pivot comes after President Rodrigo Duterte turned to China instead of the United States to help fight the COVID-19 crisis.
“President Xi Jinping, for all of his goodness to us, wrote me a letter and said that he is willing to help. All we have to do is to ask,” Duterte announced this past March.
At the same time, Duterte almost completely ignored mentioning the aid sent by the United States.
The statement follows a series of concerning policy positions from Duterte. He had previously proclaimed that he hoped his nation would become “less America, more China” and had bragged to Chinese officials in 2016 that he would “be dependent on [them] for a long time.”
Duterte has not just offered statements about ending ties to the United States. He also took action by terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) despite fierce opposition to the measure by the legislature in Manila. The VFA was a major military deal with the U.S. that had aimed to stem Chinese influence in the South China Sea.
In addition, Duterte rejected an offer to visit U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington D.C., despite visiting Beijing on four separate occasions.
Duterte’s swivel from the United States comes at a particularly troublesome time, as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to increase. Though the relationship between the two countries had already been contentious following a longstanding trade war, it has further soured during the coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi recently warned that the US was “taking China-U.S. relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War,” per The Inquisitr.
However, though President Duterte might believe that the Philippines’ future lies with China, it remains to be seen if the nation is in agreement. As a former colony of the United States for more than half a century, the Philippines has remained one of the most pro-American countries in the world. In addition, both local and international surveys indicate that Filipinos trust the U.S. more than China.