It is possible that the seeming inconstancy in the Duterte approach to the territorial and maritime conflict in the South China Sea is strategic. What does it mean when one day he talks about shelving our claims aside in exchange for Chinese bankrolling of major infrastructure projects in the Philippines, and another day he talks about planting the Philippine flag himself in the Spratly Islands? Perhaps it is meant to keep China off balance. He has met with the Chinese ambassador in Davao City, in a formal luncheon complete with printed menu, and praised Beijing for easing restrictions on Filipino fishermen. But he has also reasserted Philippine claims to parts of the Spratly Islands (and Sabah). This is something out of Sun Tzu, yes?
Nery, J. (2016, May 31). Duterte's China. Philippine Daily Inquirer, p. A9.
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- Philippine Daily Inquirer