Rodrigo Duterte is famous for his quite unusual and soft stance towards China. Filipinos, in general, have a deep distrust for China and you maybe believe that they distrust Duterte for his “love affairs” with Beijing. Wrong! Duterte has been enjoying the highest approval rate since the Marcos’ Administration.
But what is the state-of-the-art of Manila’s economic dealings with Beijing? The Philippines are, together with Brunei, the South East Asian country, which has had the lowest level of Chinese investment. Differently from countries like Malaysia, where the political backlash against Chinese conditions on lending money, The Philippines never found themselves in that position. The Philippines are in desperate need of foreign investments, and the Chinese capitals are the easiest available on the shelf.
Do Europeans and Americans have their share of responsibility for putting The Philippines in the arms and hands of Chinese money? Yes, they have. There is the credence that money from democratic countries can help to democratize authoritarian regimes. Now, Duterte’s regime is not even near to perfect democracy. It is a regime in a fierce war against drug lords and terrorists, striving for a better economy and less poverty. It is what it is, no less and no more. Differently from western money, Chinese money doesn’t look at the human rights record of The Philippines, and they are more than welcomed for this reason.