17 May 2017

News Report: How Stable is the Reconciliation of China, Philippines Amid S China Sea Dispute

The result of the negotiations of Rodrigo Duterte in Beijing was the signing of agreements on Chinese investments, totaling $9 billion. However, the country's investment needs are much higher. Sputnik spoke with an analyst from Moscow State University, Andrei Karneev, about how stable the recent rapprochement of Manila and Beijing truly is.

“According to the minister of finance of the Philippines, Manila will seek alternative sources of financing for their infrastructure projects in order to avoid increasing dependence on China,” Karneev said.

He further said that for the Philippines, one of the poorest countries in the region, the total investment requirement is $167 billion. At the same time, according to the Philippines finance minister, Carlos Dominguez, China is not seen as the main source of these funds.

“The Philippine government has mentioned that proposals from South Korea and Japan are under consideration. It is possible that some promises will be made by the United States as well. Nevertheless, relations between the Philippines and China have recently improved, although both sides are opposed to each other in territorial disputes in the South China Sea,” Karneev said.

According to the analyst it seems that Duterte apparently still continues to balance between the “big powers and is ready to improve relations with the US and with other countries, if this can be used for practical gain.”

At the end of April, Trump and Duterte held a telephone conversation, during which the US president invited Duterte to Washington. The White House report of the conversation noted that the US and Philippine leaders held a "friendly conversation" discussing regional security in the Southeast Asian region, as well as the fight against the drug mafia, which was declared by Duterte in his country.

The analyst said that surely the American president would eventually offer the Philippine leader some sort of profitable deal. However, Duterte's reaction to that is difficult to predict.

“Despite the US efforts to restore its position in the Philippines, the decisive role in determining the vector of Philippine diplomacy, according to most experts, will be played by China. It seems that Beijing is ready to compromise with the Philippines after all,” Karneev said.

According to the analyst the Philippines and China intend to begin a constructive dialogue next week on the territorial issue in the South China Sea, and this dialogue channel should become a regular base.

“On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, confirmed that talks will begin on May 19 in the Chinese city of Guiyang. Dialogue on the territorial issue can be a new beginning for the relations of the two countries,” Karneev said.

China is apparently willing to promote its economic cooperation projects, including the ambitious “One belt, One road” project, for reconciliation with Manila.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.