Photo: President Rodrigo Duterte delivering the State of the Nation Address, July 2016.
Professor Aileen Baviera of the UP Asian Center recently published an article, “Duterte’s Evolving South China Sea Policy” in Maritime Issues. She looked at the evolution of the Philippine President’s approach in the South China Sea, and the challenges faced by the search for a strategy balancing a nationalist position and the administration’s pragmatic objectives.
“Those who expect the Duterte government to have a clear and comprehensive long-term strategy towards China at this time should be careful what yardstick they use, because it seems that no country in the neighborhood – bar none –pretends to have one, given today’s fluid geopolitical and economic conditions. Many believe strategic conflict between China and the US to be a question of WHEN and HOW, and no longer a question of IF…..
However, even without a comprehensive strategy in the South China Sea, it appears that countervailing influences are working towards a more balanced and less China-leaning approach by the Duterte government. Competing goals, bureaucratic interests, expectations from the domestic public as well as from external partners, recent interactions and changes in the behavior of major protagonists all contribute to reshaping this policy.
….Philippine policy on the South China Sea under Duterte is clearly still evolving, and efforts to seek a correct balance between a principled nationalist stand and more pragmatic objectives are bound to encounter many tests.
The article was originally published in Maritime Issues.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Aileen SP. Baviera is Professor at the Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman. She specializes on and writes about contemporary China studies, China-Southeast Asia relations, Asia-Pacific security, territorial and maritime disputes, and regional integration. The editor in chief of the journal, "Asian Politics & Policy," she is the author of many academic publications, including the "The Domestic Mediations of China's Influence in the Philippines," which appears in Rising China's Influence in Developing Asia, edited by Evelyn Goh and published by Oxford University Press. She completed her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of the Philippines Diliman. VIEW FULL PROFILE.