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Marcos Jr. already had to deal with Sino-US dualism

Marcos Jr. already had to deal with Sino-US dualism

Marcos’s Philippines is balanced between China and the United States. Manila tries to balance itself (and try alternatives) in the clash of Indo-Pacific powers.

Less than a month after taking office as President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. It is already facing its thorniest foreign policy problem: China. What is happening in Manila is a good example to understand some of the difficulties that various Indo Pacific countries are experiencing in the increasingly strong dualism between Beijing and Washington. It’s an issue that affects the rest of the world, as demonstrated during the president’s recent visit Joe Biden In the Middle EastOr as they say (Biden tries to reassure) the concerns of various African countries A grand summit was announced in December)

Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang YiShe went to Manila two weeks ago to meet her newly appointed partner Enrique Manalo, and so far Marcos has rolled out the red carpet. In his first trip to “China”, the Oxford-educated son of art, the Philippine leader said he was open to strengthening military cooperation with Beijing as a way to resolve the dispute between the two countries over maritime sovereignty. In the South China Sea.

It is not clear what this means, but Marcos is trying to carve his place among his predecessors, Rodrigo Dutertewho has shown himself to favor the side of China (however Donald Trump), and the former pro-American administration, won six years ago It causes In an international arbitration case against China, a dispute over a disputed area of ​​water – contained in it A continuous conflict with fishing fleets integrated into a maritime militia by Beijing.

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The stakes are high for the Philippines, which is forced to walk a tightrope to avoid antagonizing both Beijing and Washington. See for example the cooperation agreement (including military) signed in April with Japan. Like done from Indonesia and Vietnam, always with a desire not to be bogged down by Russia-US dualism. A level of engagement that other international actors such as China are reluctant to apply.

A location in Tokyo has been brewing for the region for some time A profound theory (partially adopted by the US and the EU), it may move as an alternative. Indeed, Manila maintains strong security ties with the United States, and is included in the partnership system designed by Washington. After all, the US is a key partner for Manila in the fight against terrorism – a group like Dawla Islamia, linked to the Baghdadi universe and active in the south of the country.

Marcos, the successor to the country’s last dictator, knows he must respect the wishes of his complex, still divided communities — in part because of his father’s twenty-year dictatorship. Ferdinand Marcos, kept the country alive. Filipinos are the majority likes Obviously America to China – but BangbangAs the Filipinos call their new president, he knows that territorial conflicts with Beijing are open and that he cannot damage relations even for reasons of economic and business interests.

In recent days, Marcos Jr. has ordered the Ministry of Transportation to renegotiate loan agreements his predecessor made with China for rail projects worth $4.90 billion. These are the Subic-Clark railway line, the Southern Philippine National Railway’s long-distance project, and the Davao-Ticos section of the Mindanao railway project. Manila is exploring new options as China appears to be lagging in its investment drive (as in the Belt and Road Initiative).

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In 2018, negotiations for the rail projects began under the Duterte administration, which has set aside a long-running territorial dispute over the South China Sea and intended to close its ties with Beijing in exchange for promised aid, loans and investments. Infrastructure project (a piece of political action promised to citizens). The point is also the Philippines’ exposure to credit trap events: The case of Sri Lanka It is symbolic, but not unique.