THE standard model of dissent against apparent Chinese economic colonization of the Philippines is, as it turns out, completely upside-down, and it is, in fact, the Duterte regime that is to blame for environmental, social, and economic regulations and norms being overridden where Chinese-funded projects are concerned. Rather than Duterte being a pliant tool for the Chinese to increase their influence in the Philippines, it is Duterte that is using the Chinese to selectively strengthen his political interests by catering to those of favored regional and national political elite.

These are the conclusions of a revelatory study published last week by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, written by Dr. Alvin Camba of the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. The well-researched paper is primarily based on detailed field research conducted in the Philippines between 2018 and this year, including extensive interviews with officials from the Department of Defense, Department of Finance, National Economic and Development Authority, and other government officials.

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