(GPA) Beijing – Just a few weeks after Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China, the country has offered a substantial aid package.
Following Duterte’s October meeting with Chinese premier Xi Jinping, the two countries seem to be confirming their new closeness with a massive aid deal. The aid package which includes a gift of $14 million worth of small arms is said to be for “fighting the Philippines war on drugs and terrorism” according to Manila’s defense minister, Delfin Lorenzana.
China has also offered the Philippines a set of long term “soft loans” valued at $500 million for the future purchase of equipment. According to Lorenzana, “The Chinese ambassador last night told the president, I know your problem in drugs so we would like to help you.” This is just another boost in China-Philippine relations after the two countries finalized a trade deals worth an estimated $24 billion in investments in the Philippines.
The Philippines relationship with China was on the verge of falling apart early last year after the small country brought complaints to The Hague concerning territorial waters in the South China Sea (SCS). Yet after the election of Duterte even this doesn’t seem to be a point of contention anymore and now the Filipino and Chinese coast guards have started doing joint drills in the area. Duterte has even offered to share the wealth of oil resources located in an area of the SCS with china in places where their territorial claims overlap.
This is bad news for the US who has been a close ally to the Philippines for decades but has had a falling out since Duterte’s election. The West has been very critical of Duterte’s drug war; with it’s lack of judicial procedures and state sponsored death squads the killing of suspected drug dealers and users has claimed an estimated 6,000 lives since July. Even Duterte has claimed to have personally killed suspected criminals in the past, which prompted the UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to call for an investigation.
The Philippines are a critical US ally and as Duterte has moved closer to China, he has spoken of throwing out past agreements that allow US troops to operate from the islands chain saying they should be gone “within two years.” Duterte, like many other leaders is seemingly moving toward more lenient eastern nations who in his words “don’t interfere” with internal business. As the Philippines moves closer to China and continues to receive more aid, Duterte may be proven right in asking “what do I need America for?”