DU30’s visit to Beijing like Chamberlain’s visit to Munich in 1938



First Read
Thanks to University of the Philippines law professor Jay Batongbacal, the Filipino nation is finally awakening to the great importance and far-reaching implications of President Duterte’s visit to China next week and the pivot of Philippine foreign policy to China.

The professor, who is also director of the UP Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, warned last week that our government is methodically eliminating all means of leverage with which the Philippines could secure its interests against “its larger, more powerful neighbor.”

Elaborating, he said: “President Duterte is taking a huge risk, betting all on China’s goodwill and beneficence without the insurance provided by the diversified, multi-lateral support of historical and traditional friends and allies.

“Over the long term, China unmistakably stands to gain much, while the Philippines’ fate remains uncertain.”
Batongbacal issued the statement after learning that Duterte canceled the China trip of former President Fidel Ramos after Ramos advised DU30 not to push through with the trip to China if they would not comply with certain conditions.

Instead of heeding Ramos’ advice, Duterte canceled Ramos’ China trip and personally took control of talks with Chinese officials without even consulting or informing the concerned Philippine counterparts.

BS Aquino is missed

When the terms and conditions for Duterte’s visit fully come to light next week, the nation will look wistfully at President Benigno B.S. Aquino 3rd’s foreign policy toward China and the South China Sea. Aquino made a lot of sense on two key moves he made.

First, he warned that China’s moves in the South China Sea increasingly resembled Adolf Hitler’s moves on Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, which in the event precipitated the outbreak of World War II.

Second, he gave the green light to the filing by our Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of a case against China before the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague. The case that produced a landmark decision casts an uncomfortable background for the coming talks between President Duterte and President Xi Jin-Ping.

I wrote in a column last June that the arbitral award is “the ace in the hole” which we will carry to any negotiations with China on the disputed waters. But the big question now is whether China will even allow Duterte to mention the decision during his visit.

Zipping the President’s lip never worked with Aquino; he just kept on talking, sometimes raising the most outrageous things against the government in Beijing.

He declared that China’s leadership is reminiscent of Hitler and his Nazi regime. This is oddly apposite to Duterte’s recent quip that he might act like Hitler in the country’s ongoing war on drugs, by eliminating some 3.7 million drug suspects.

A page from Chamberlain and Munich

The really unsettling allusion to history is the growing realization that Duterte’s visit to China increasingly resembles British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s visit to Munich in October 1938 and the signing of the infamous Munich Agreement.

The Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany’s annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the country’s borders mainly inhabited by German speakers, for which a new territorial designation “Sudetenland” was coined.

The agreement was signed on Sept. 30 1938 (but dated Sept. 29) after being negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany among Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Sudetenland was of immense strategic importance to Czechoslovakia, as most of its border defenses, and banks were situated there, as well as heavy industrial districts.

Czechoslovakia was informed by Britain and France that it could either resist Nazi Germany alone or submit to the prescribed annexations. The Czechoslovak government, realizing the hopelessness of fighting the Nazis alone, reluctantly capitulated and agreed to abide by the agreement.

On Sept. 30 after some rest, Chamberlain went to Hitler and asked him to sign a peace treaty between the United Kingdom and Germany, to which Adolf happily agreed.

On his return to Britain, Chamberlain delivered his infamous “peace for our time” speech to crowds in London. And war broke out within days.

Duterte would be lucky if he could return to Manila with a better deal than Chamberlain got, or more opportunity to speak his mind in Beijing.

China has already said that it will never negotiate with the Philippines on the basis of the arbitration award of the Hague arbitration tribunal, which favored the Philippines on all points at issue and declared China’s claim to the South China Sea as illegal.

For China, nothing is negotiable on the basis of the arbitration award, but everything is negotiable if it is discarded.

Duterte sounds hollow when he publicly insists at home that he will negotiate with China on the basis of the Arbitral ruling and within the international law. Recent developments on our foreign policy front indicate that the Philippines already concedes that the arbitral decision is just “paper.”

“By alienating allies like the United States and Australia; by refusing to push through with basic surveillance of the West Philippine Sea, by discarding an Asean role; declaring that the Philippines cannot defend its territorial/jurisdictional areas; by even exhorting the public to “not dwell” on Scarborough Shoal,” we appear to have hoisted the flag of appeasement before talks can even begin.

A transactional exercise

Duterte is turning any talks or negotiations with China into a transactional exercise. He is betting and hoping that China will reciprocate his abandonment of the previous Administration’s strategy and his pivot away from the US, by giving him both money and respect. He hopes to secure a concession for Philippine fishing at Scarborough, major Chinese investments in a Philippine railway system, and energy projects.

If none of these materializes, our proud President will lose face before his countrymen and the international community. He will stand weakened by his audacious foreign policy adventurism.

Zero-sum vs win-win diplomacy

It would be satisfactory if DU30 could report to the nation a win-win outcome in his visit to China – an outcome wherein both countries derive benefits from any agreement or understanding reached.

But some of us, including this writer, fear that Filipino-Chinese relations have become a “zero-sum game.”
A “zero-sum” game or relationship means a situation wherein a gain for one side entails a corresponding loss for the other side.

If Filipino statecraft is not up to the challenge, if our foreign policy persists in revolving around DU30’s instincts and whims, we could wind up losing our entire political leverage in the South China Sea and our standing and influence in the Asia-Pacific.

China is playing a zero-sum game against us. We have to insist on seeking a win-win outcome. A win-win or positive-sum outcome means everyone wins, usually through cooperation and joint problem solving.
These terms originated in game theory, which comes from the field of mathematics.

Serious statecraft knows how to play the game competently in its country’s national interest.



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  1. I lost one part of the narrative on Gen. Vic Corpus’ arguemnt, the lose-lose proposaition that the Arbitration case was and still is, which the Americans had foisted on the Filipino people very successfully due to the coplicity of the Noynoy government and the US citizen Albert del Rosario as RP foreign secretary… the Americans tried to provoke China to succumb to the US ploy of intimidating China with the demand for China to “follow the Rule of Law” laid down by the Permanent Arbitration Court which is as Corpus describes it “not a UN court nor Permanent and cannot act as a court and did not arbitrate becasue there was only one party”…. the Americans followed up the arbitration judgment with FONOPs but China called the bluff and the US blinked and backed down leaving the Philippines again high and dry… the US game was to scare China off the reclaimed islands and the Scarborough but China Cropus explains will go to total war to keep the US contained and controlled with regards of the China Sea and specially Scarborough which lies just West of the Manla Trench that run down the west coast of Luzon and the only deep locaitno where the US Ohio class submarines cannot be detected by satellites… the Manila Trench is used by the US to enter unobserved to Subic and internal waters, between islands,, and assume firing positions to atack China’s southern and eastern coast with cruise missiles each with 200kilotons explosive power and 20x the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs… each Ohio submarine holds 150 such missiles and the US can deploy 5 or more such subs… such as attack would wipe out the Chinese nation and civilization… the only role the Philippines plays here is as hostage cover OR HUMAN SHIELD for the US and as in World War II it becomes the first casuALties as well as the first decoy to protect the US and its allies’ military assets…that is the `total lose-lose SITUATION FOR THE phILIPPINES… AND NOYNOY AQUINO WAS PUTTING THE ENTIRE PHILIPPINES NOT ONLY IN A NO WIN OR LOSE-LOSE SITUATION BUT A TOTAL DEVASTATION of a nuclear holocaust…. it is important to note that several Filipino public figures such as Roilo Golez, Justice Carpio as others are actually inviting this situation to visit the nation… on the other hand the economic expansion that will commence in engaging China (now the largest economy, overtaking the US) can only mean a big Win for the 100 million Filipinos…

  2. Gen. Victor Corpus has been explaining it quite clearly, Philippines engagement with China can only be win-win as it has been for over a thousand years, from the trade and missions of the King of Butuan in the 1000s and the Sultan of Sultan Paduka Pahala in the 1400s, and even in the Galleon Trade of the 1600s (? maybe 1700s) which carried 90% good sfrom China of porcelain, tea and silk to Acapulco and returned with silver as payment with Manila earning the mediation fees.

    It is the US that has conitnued to extract all it can from the Philippines, in blood exemplified by the 1000 bells that the US still has in its possession taken from the Filipinos they murdered all over the country in the FilAm war but highlighted by the Balangiga (source – descendants of the Filipino commander who attended a forum surnamed Daza) Massare… and the the Laurel-Langley Agreement which was a lopsided free trade agreement for the U.S. and the Mutual Defence Treaty that has kept Philippine defence capabilities stunted so the U.S. can continue its control of the country… ad nausea… The U.S. has kept the Philippine tied down to debt to the U.S. which imposed a debt-based financial and economic system. It just doesn’t make sense that a writer I know to be truly nationalistic and an admirer of Marcos’ independent foreign policy and the opening of ties to China in 1975 would even think that the U.S. has ever been a opiton for the Philippines as a friend which Aquino (Noynoy) had chosen to serve with canine devotion.

    The test of the pudding is in the eating as they say, let’s see what Duterte bring home from China. I think only the Yellows miss Aquino because they have lost their money machine and the whole party and the families backing it are in danger of being exposed as deeply intertwined with the illegl drugs scourge… but the rest of the nation certainly isn’t missing that servile and bumbling character and his cohorts.

    I particularly want to commend the comment of one of those who contirbuted here, on how some have dubbed Duterte as Hitlerian now can liken him to Chamberlain who is associated with limpness when Duterte has shown inordinate thoughness — and to the Americans and the other knownlackey of Western Imperialism such as the E.U. and the U.N.

    The bottom line however is, and I reiterate, the proof of the pudding is in the eating…. let’s wait for the Chinese pudding Duterte will bring back… I am 99.99% certain it will taste as good and be as filling as the zillions of siopao and siomai and pancit and afordable electronic goods and plain consumer comfort items that 100 million Filipinos today and countless in centuries past have enjoyed to while away the 600 years of Western and local oligarchy oppression of the common tao.

  3. I haven’t seen Philippine’s interest in DU30 WALK OF FAME TO CHINA to meet China’s leaders. Is our president really guided by true wisdom and knowledge to deal with China’s pragmatic leaders whose only plan and ambition are to conquer the world through their economic power no matter what their move to make business to other countries might contribute? Every time I had my meal with Chinese scholastics around, they would always tell me that Chinese culture is money; China is no longer a communist country; it is an extreme capitalist country without the soul is left to make money. When I try to visualize these words of Chinese well-schooled individuals, the first thing that came to my mind was the ecological destruction made by China in building artificial Islands in the West Philippines. The Chinese leaders have never ever considered that such ecological destruction is an irreparable one that would end up or reduced the food change supplies in the world. I could not imagine how Chinese leaders are inconsiderate knowing that the West Philippine was on trial by international Lawyers and judges in Hague, Netherland. The next question that came to my mind again is this: is president DU30 really guided by true wisdom and knowledge to deal with China? Is he leading the Philippine to be devoured by the dragons?

    • True. China has made moves to protect its vast economic interest. It’s now the world supplier of commodities. Almost all product you see in the supermarkets or stores are made in China. They have built many factories from Guangxi or Yunnan to Heilongjiang provinces and employed millions of Chinese from countryside peasants workers cheap labor. China do not care about other countries interest. They have fought wars almost all countries around them. Their mentality is still the same thousand years ago when Qin Shihuandi an emperor ruled China by subduing other provinces in China. Qin has built the great wall of china. One need to read the history of China and it’s ruler to understand their intent in this world.

    • Absolutely correct! Why take 90% of the Filipinos with you on the path of communism or socialism when we are enjoying our democracy. These group of socialist are dangerous.
      DU30 is stirring our country like the Titanic into an iceberg!!

  4. Your comparing Pres. Duterte’s visit to China with Chamberlain’s visit to Munich is a bit of a stretch. For one thing, PDU30 is going to China to get more business from them and not to sell off our country. If there is one you want to compare with Chamberlain, that would be PNoy when he sold off Sabah to the Malaysians. Bet you really miss PNoy now huh?

    • Yen is quite right! There is the two of us who now believe that the President is heading towards socialism and/or communism. The visit to China who by the way supply our country with drugs and drug lords is quite scary thing to do. I will not be surprise if DU30 comes back empty handed on Scarborough and Spratley Islands except for additional investment by the taipans such as, SM, Chowking, Bench, etc.

    • PDutz is behavaving like a subatomic particle, sometimes a wave and sometimes particle. Its dual nature is accepted but can never be predicted.

  5. Sir, you gave me a laughing matter. It seems you lost your senses possibly due to our long and visible relation w/ US. But, hey! China has been our friend since 11th century.

  6. In the last election, due to the precarious condition in the country, voters elected Duterte because of his populous appeal and his promise to deal and eliminate serious problems plaguing the nation. He brags about many things and did not hide his macho attitude in his leadership style. But he has forgotten that the nation is a republic and the CONSTITUTIO and the rule of law are supreme.

    China is not born yesterday and is savvy in diplomatic front and understands the workings of geopolitics. China deals in a position of strength and knows what button to push to get what they want. When it comes to their national interests, China does not back down because they can back it up with military force equipped with modern technology. Duterte has nothing in his hand to push the Chinese to give what Duterte wants to get. China is expert in tit for tat and always gets the upper hand. They take a hard bargain. What will Duterte dangle to the Chinese in order to get something?

    Again Duterte is showing his macho attitude by not listening to opposing views. Ramos had concerns about the purpose of the trip and got fired. Instead, Duterte decides that he will do it himself. As a servant of the people, Duterte has the obligation to consult with his advisers to determine the items for discussion. His advisers are hired to advise the president and not rubber stamp his ideas. If the president doesn’t listen, why hire advisers who are supposed to be experts?

    A dictator always says that he knows what’s good for the people so just shut up, put up and listen. The concerns of critics are beginning to show. Duterte has good intentions but his methods in accomplishing them are of grave concern. Instead of solving problems, he creates problems instead.

    Opinion writers in newspapers write about the lessons in history of the blunders that leaders made in the pursuit of peace that resulted in war and national disasters. Duterte must not let his ego come in the way of good leadership, common sense, and a little humility would go a long way. He’s now involved in national politics, not small town politics anymore. It’s complicated.

    Mr. President, please listen to reason and not do drastic actions that would lead the country in disaster that would be difficult to reverse. And listening to opposing views is a good start.

  7. Yonkers, New York
    15 October 2016

    “Serious statecraft” and playing a “zero-sum game” are completely alien to former Davao City Mayor RODRIGO DUTERTE, who finds it impossible to make the transition from Mayor to President of the Philippines.

    He even finds it impossible to behave in the decorous and civilized manner of a high public official. He cannot help being a loose cannon, shooting his uncouth and vulgar mouth off on the slightest pretext or pique. He may have been free to behave like a Neanderthal barbarian as Mayor, but surely not as President.

    Duterte is out of his element in Foreign Relations. Out of a personal pique, obviously, he has rashly and irresponsibiy turned his back of the United States, a long time trusted and generous ally of the Philippines, and recklessly pushed the Philippines into the orbit of COMMUNIST CHINA and RUSSIA–as another Communist state, of course.

    On October 18, he gets rewarded with a state visit to Beijing. There he will meet his new “Master,”Chinese President XI JINPING. As Chinese ambassador ZHAO JIANHUA says in another report in the Manila Times, China will reward Duterte with several “goodies” in terms mostly of Chinese investments in the Philippines.

    From here on, expect Duterte to respond to China’s “wishes”–actually impositions–the same way a dog is
    expected by its owner to respond to commands, such as “Sit,” “Shake a paw,” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

    As perceptive TIME magazine laments, “NIGHT HAS FALLEN ON THE PHILIPPINES.” This could be a long dark night lasting six years–if this genocidal maniac is not locked up in prison by the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT, or is deposed by “People Power,” or via a military coup d’etat.


  8. Common sense dictates that the Philippines is better off befriending and making deals with the USA than with China and Russia. The problem with the Philippine leaders (politicians) is they don’t know how to use the art of the deals.The Filipinos are very emotional, so much so that they think solving the drug problems is good enough. As long as there is poverty in the Philippines, as long as the gap between the rich and poor is status quo, I am afraid, Détente will not be able to satisfy the Filipinos at the end of the day. A problem can not be solved by another problem. The question is how long will the popularity of Détente will stay? It is not enough to double the salary of the military. Patriots will prefer patriotism and sacrifice than money. Of course, how many patriots are there in the Philippines?SABI NGA SA TAGALOG — MAGKAPULAPULA MAN ANG SAGA MAITIM ANG KABILA. I hope the dark side of the future will not happen in the Philippines. I hope the red side will hang on.

    I do not trust China and Russia. They are undemocratic and are against liberty. Filipinos must study the history of China and Russia. BTW China has more trillions in debts than the United States. Russia is the poorest among the three. Common sense again dictates that America is more powerful militarily than China and Russia combined.

    I know some members of the Cabinet now, who run to America, during Marcos regime as political asylum.. They neither shelter themselves to China nor to Russia during martial law!

  9. What is power for ? Unfortunately DU30 believes he is great in diplomacy. I still like him for his war on drug.

  10. Ignacio Balbutin on

    If the President will give up our rights on scarborough shoal in lieu of some economic favor from China then that is treason. How can u give up the shoal oozing with quadrillion barrels of oil and gas. Giving it up means giving up the future of the country. If the President truly love the country then he should not give up the shoal because that is the hope of the nation..

    • Agree. It’s in our constitution that DU30 can not give up rights to any part of our country. DU30 needs to listen to his mentors like FVR who knows what’s best for our country. Remember, US is still the most powerful country in the world. Hence, US will not easily give up even small parts of the PH which has military and economic importance to them, to its allies Japan, South Korea, Asean, ANZUS and our country. FM made a mistake in aligning our country with China hence he was overthrown by CIA assisted majority of the Filipinos. PH under previous administrations have improved the economy which is the root cause of the drugs, killings and corruptions in our country.

  11. No matter what Duterte do in his mission to China, we the Filipinos will be the loser. He is like stepping in the spider web of the Black Widow. a no win situation.

  12. Why are you comparing Duterte to Chamberlain? The British had an Empire,had the wherewithal to face Herr Adolf while the Philippines,almost a century after World War II its leaders including that previous one never really had the political will to substantially establish a credible external defenses and we are still terribly dependent on the whims of a deceptive and unreliable U.S. Ally. Compare him instead to Manuel L. Quezon upon realizing that he had been duped into spending for a farcical ” Field Marshal” Douglas MacArthur for an equally farcical defense structure. Here is an excerpt of the “Official Gazette” on Quezon’s precipitate flight to Tokyo at the eve of WW2;
    “With the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935, President Manuel L. Quezon also began amicable relations with Japan. While matters of the Commonwealth’s foreign affairs were held exclusively by the United States (by virtue of Article XVII, Section I of the 1935 Constitution), President Quezon engaged in informal diplomacy to Japan: visiting officially in January 31 to February 2, 1937[9] and privately in June 29 to July 10, 1938.[10] [11] At the time, President Quezon’s visits aimed at strengthening economic ties with Japan after independence.[12] This visits were amidst Japanese encroachment in China and fear of further Japanese expansion.[13]

    • Ignacio Balbutin on

      The difference is President Quezon did not dump the US to have a relation with Japan. Now the President is dumping the US in favor of China, its a fatal decision because we will lost many investors from the western countries. As I said it is a win win situation if we will be friends to everybody. Go, have relations with China but don’t dump our allies

  13. If HitlerDU30 will abandon or discard our territorial rights at the West Phil Sea as decided by the International Court Tribunal at Hague in favor of some economic benefits from China, it will be considered TREASON & he could be charged under our Constitution. Let’s FIGHT for our territorial rights.

  14. Listen Len, you seem to not recognize what the Arbitrator decided. It heard one side of an argument and said that based on that, the PH is correct. That’s it. There is no binding decision or actions required. As it stands it is just a political statement with no legal standing. So what you think would happen if the PH confronts China with that decision? Won’t China just slam the door in our face?

    DU30 is pursuing talks where we can establish common ground and move forward with things that benefit the PH. Don’t worry. DU30 is smart and is motivated to make the PH improve. We will know what happens in China. DU30 does not hide things.

  15. Leodegardo Pruna on

    PDU30’s game is a win game. Whenever there are two adversaries, one wins the other one losses.A game is a game and the only way to come out satisfying both adversaries is a draw where both agrees to halt the game because it is going nowhere. Then, both are satisfied. Hopefully PDU30 and China would come to terms with both satisfied from the outcome of the meeting. God bless the Philippines.

  16. You sound like a harbinger of doom. I bet when your dire warnings will not happen, you will just slink to a corner, and find another fault with Duterte. You will never be satisfied, and that’s the reality.
    Makabenta, even during the election you supported another candidate – that’s obvious in your writings, can you not see anything good at all about this President? Ramos strategies – even how brilliant he thinks of himself – is history, and in fact, I don’t remember him as a brilliant president before. What has he done anyway when he was the president?

  17. DeLima is the blessing-in-disguise distraction that PresDute needed while he wraps up the insurgency negotiations. Aligning RP and joining the AIIB of the PROC could be one of the conditions of the truce that the Maoist insurgents made with PresDute. Second, is for PresDute to align RP with SSR or the Soviets to satisfy the Marxist-Leninists insurgents in RP, so a Moscow visit is next and a mano abrazo with Vlad. I can foresee a wild boar hunt, and lots of horse riding in the steepes.

    PreDute may get the arms and loans he wants from PROC and SSR while satisfying the demands of the communist insurgents of RP, everyone will be happy except big, white and debt-ridden Uncle Sam holding his TPP with nowhere to stick it in . And they are stinking mad, senor . . . Cercle Canadien sur les Questions Asiatiques