In the coming days, as world leaders travel to Singapore for the annual Southeast Asian summit, China will likely have a rather unpleasant development on its mind: increasing pushback across Southeast Asia of its growing economic influence, led by none other than Malaysia, a traditionally China-friendly nation.
When Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad made a surprise return to power earlier this year at the age of 92, it precipitated a qualitative shift in Sino-Malaysian relations as he pushed for more transparent and equitable economic deals with Beijing. As Mahathir said at the time, he views China’s leadership as “inclined towards totalitarianism” and unashamed to “flex [its] muscles” in order to “increase [its] influence over many countries in Southeast Asia.”… Seguir leyendo »
In what could be the beginning of the trial of the century, the International Criminal Court has initiated a preliminary probe into alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
The prime target is no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, who has overseen a bloody campaign against suspected drug dealers since his ascent to power in 2016. Almost overnight, the Southeast Asian country transformed from a “bastion of human rights and democracy” into potentially the latest member of an exclusive club of nations that have seen their leaders prosecuted for crimes against humanity. In response, Duterte has called to withdraw his country’s membership to the international body, which would make the Philippines only the second nation, after Burundi, to withdraw.… Seguir leyendo »
Shortly after Muslim extremists affiliated with the Islamic State laid siege to Marawi, a city in the southern Philippines, on May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law for 60 days across the island of Mindanao. Citing the presence of foreigners among the fighters and the risk of an “invasion", he said he might extend martial law to the entire country if that was necessary “to protect the people.”
And just like that, it seems, tens of millions of Filipinos woke up to the twin threat of the Islamic State and of a potential return to unfettered authoritarianism. Democracy in the Philippines seems to be at its most fragile point in years.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the weekend, President Trump provoked an avalanche of criticism at home and abroad by extending a formal invitation to his Filipino counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, to visit the White House. The two leaders are reported to have had a “very friendly conversation” by phone, prompting denunciations by human rights groups and the liberal establishment in both America and the Philippines.
To the chagrin even of administration officials, the White House, in a statement announcing the invitation, appeared not only to play down Mr. Duterte’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs — which rights groups say has claimed 1,000 lives a month since it started last July — but also went so far as to praise his efforts to rid his country of drugs.… Seguir leyendo »
Within a span of a few months, the Philippines has transformed from one of China's most ardent critics into one of its potential allies.
"I'm going to China to make friends with them and also with Russia," Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines' firebrand leader, claimed recently.
"I am ready to not really break ties [with America] but we will open alliances with China and . . . Medvedev [Russia]."
Since his first day in office, Duterte has consistently touted his commitment to forging a more independent foreign policy, which, to him, means less dependence on America.
Naturally, many are beginning to ask whether Duterte, a self-described 'socialist', will revamp the Philippines' foreign policy by shifting alliances towards China.… Seguir leyendo »