China gloats over Philippines, Malaysia ‘turning away from the US’



China’s chief official newspaper, the People’s Daily, is gloating over the discomfort Washington finds itself in after Philippine President Rodolfo Duterte visited China and publicly said that he was leaving the United States, followed two weeks later by Malaysia’s prime minister, NajibRazak, who also tightened relations with China, including signing security agreements.

On November 3, the paper published in its online edition a commentary headlined “State spokesman struggles with facts: As the US pivots to Asia, the region turns to China.”

It focused on a State Department press briefing on November 1, in which the spokesman, John Kirby, was asked about the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. Kirby made two points.

“First, he said that the rebalance is not about China,” the commentary reported. “Second, he argued against the idea that countries are turning away from the US and turning to China, saying that the idea ‘is just not borne out by the facts.’ ”

“But,” the commentary asserted, “the rebalance is about China, and the idea that more and more countries are turning away from the US and turning to China is completely borne out by the facts.”

It pointed out that last year, the US put out a Fact Sheet entitled “Advancing the Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific” in which it listed “a stronger treaty alliance with the Philippines and a deeper partnership with Malaysia as two important accomplishments.”

“One year later,” it declared, “both countries have moved closer to China. For example, Philippines President Duterte’s first non-Asean state visit was to China and the two sides have worked hard to warm relations. This does not mean that the US is out, but it does mean China is in.”

It then cited the visit to China by Prime Minister Najib, who “signed numerous agreements with China, including security agreements.”

Without claiming total victory, the commentary said, “The US may still be relevant, but so is China.”

Interestingly, this was also Kirby’s theme.

While he rejected the idea “that there’s some sort of landslide movement towards China and away from the United States,” he also asserted that “we have nothing to fear from the peaceful, productive rise of China, and we have nothing to fear from nations establishing better and warmer and more productive relationships with China.”

Asked specifically about the agreements Malaysia had signed with China, Kirby replied in part: “Everywhere we go in the Asia Pacific region, it’s reiterated time and time again how important foreign leaders there view American presence, American economic assistance and participation in trade, as well as American leadership. So we don’t view it, again, as a binary sort of equation, and we don’t view it as a zero-sum game. The whole idea of the rebalance is to foster the kind of dialogue that you’re starting to see happening. And so again, we welcome this.”

For years, the countries of Southeast Asia have been confronted with a situation where they are torn between relying on China for their economic well-being and on the US for their security. Now, it seems, some of them think that they can rely on China for their security as well. Since China is the one with whom they have conflicting maritime claims, it is difficult to see how this will work out in practice.

In the wake of the Duterte visit, China has allowed Filipino fishermen to return to Scarborough Shoal. Asked about this, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson responded that the Chinese side continued to exercise “normal jurisdiction” over the area and “the situation there is and will remain unchanged.” However, “proper arrangements” have been made in view of the improvement of relations following Duterte’s visit.

This means that China continues to reject Manila’s territorial claim and it will continue to control the shoal as part of its territory. However, if the Philippines behaves itself, China will allow it to fish there. Otherwise, the fishermen can be barred at any time.

Similar treatment will no doubt be meted out to Malaysia and other claimant countries.

Nonclaimant countries like Singapore are expected to fall in line. China intends to control virtually the entire South China Sea, and if other countries cooperate, they can reap economic benefits. Otherwise, they will feel China’s might, economic and military.

At this point, the US seems unsure how to proceed. Saying it approves of other countries’ improved relations with China is putting the best face on a bad situation. However, if Southeast Asian countries choose to make their peace with China, there is little that Washington can do.
Twitter: @FrankChing1


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  1. There are more than 80% Filipinos who would like to be closer to Americans than the Chinese.
    Only those Filipinos who have interest in China would. Matagal na tayong niloloko ng mga Chinese. Learn from the Indonesians experience on communism see below.
    The Indonesian mass killings of 1965–1966 (sometimes variously known the Indonesian Communist Purge or the Indonesian Politicide were large-scale killings which occurred in Indonesia over many months, targeting communists, ethnic Chinese and alleged leftists, often at the instigation of the armed forces and government. The most widely accepted estimates are that at least 500,000 were killed.[4][5] The purge was a pivotal event in the transition to the “New Order” and the elimination of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) as a political force.

  2. Again, the Pinoy compromise approach to a problem. Panatag shoal open again to Pinoy fishermen? That’s only for a short term, and subject to China’s whims. Compromise, and still at the beggar’s end. Only among Pinoys.

  3. Joshua Schneider on

    For the life of me I can not understand the constant phrase “turn away from the US”. It imply’s that we turned away from something that existed to help the Philippines. Really !

    Then we have the next phrase “Obama’s Asian Pivot”. What pivot, someone must be talking about the record pivots Obama left of countless gold courses. Just what did Obama do? We know from 2012 reading the Manila Times that 8 bases were suppose to be built for co-use, and that Hillary reduced that to 5 in 2014. Please someone name just one that was built, not a existing one.

    I read in the People’s Daily newspaper on Nov 7th that Obama doctrine is incoherent. What doctrine is China talking about? That the People’s Paper goes on to say in the same article that “Obama said turned away from democratic state build and turned it to building America’s economic strength”. Economic strength from the president that hold the record for poor growth, monetary easing and placing more people on food stamps and welfare, goodness, hows that changie thing working out for Obama’s US?

    Unfortunately the US does not have a true foreign policy because Obama never could bother to spend the time with his cabinet to formulate one. Politico Magazine, 11/14/13) says that the cabinet is regarded as a nuisance. Must be if he only met with them 4 times in the past 4 years.

    We are looking at a ship of fools in the US that is sinking a slow agonized death due to a man who thinks himself the smartest man in any room. Lets hope whoever wins this election actually has the humility to get help from some smart people and salvage what can only be described as a joke.

  4. China is richer than the US today. the fact that the US borrows money from China proves that it is true.

    lets read from the Bible which is where the US Constitution was based from:

    Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor: and the borrower is servant to him that lendeth.

    The verse says that the rich and the borrower, the poor and the lendeth are one.

    The US can manipulate data to show that it is still the number 1 largest economy on earth but it proves it is not true.

    do you think Trump will not gain a lot of supporters if really the US has risen from its financial crisis? NO

    The US economy today is still in jeopardy.

    I believe that Democrats strategy is to provoke China to fire their fire shots for them to have a justification to wage war.

    they are hoping that like what happened during WW2, the US involvement in that war will help to recover from their financial crisis completely.

    so it is a wise move for PH and Malaysia to distance from the Americans. if you are smart, why still cling to a declining superpower? it is better to side to an emerging superpower which is China.

    and China will be generous enough to reciprocate it if it sees that you really make close with her.

    In fact, she rewarded the PH gov’t to allow its fishermen to fish in the Disputed Panatag Shoal which was heavily guarded by the Chinese Coast Guard where in the past it was forbidden for PH fishermen to fish.

    since the PH navy cannot match the Chinese firepower or the US Navy to willing wage war to reclaim that shoal (unless the Chinese fire the 1st shots)

    it is better to distance from the Americans and stay closer with China since in observation that shoal is under the control of China.

    this is the only way where our local fishermen to regain their lost livelihood on that seas.