Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office, he seems to have made
it his personal mission to steer the country away from the United States
and towards China. And while generations of Filipinos have seen their
country as one of America’s staunchest allies in the region, many have
followed the president and now look to China as the Philippines’ new
The concern for many
Pinoys however is whether China can be trusted at all. Despite China’s
many significant achievements, the country still remains a totalitarian
Communist state without the many freedoms and individual rights that
Western democracies provide to its citizens. Corruption and a lack of
transparency highlight just two of the many shortcomings the Chinese
government is accused of.
Chinese President Xi
Jin Ping has, of late, embarked on an anti-corruption campaign
prosecuting many high-level government officials. His critics however
point out that many of the officials Xi is going after are aligned with
former President Jiang Zemin. They see Xi’s crackdown as nothing but a
brazen move to weaken Jiang’s still significant powerbase in order to
consolidate power for himself.
At this stage, there
is no doubt that China is now a world leading economy—especially in
Southeast Asia. Given its current trajectory, it may soon surpass the
United States to become the world’s top nation. The questions for
Filipinos are: do we choose China over America? Do we try to remain
neutral? Or do we move back to the American (and European Union) side once Duterte is out of office?
Those choices may be
difficult to answer now, but the coming years will make it clearer which
one will be best for the Philippines.