Philippines and China establish coconut-shipping protocols

Foreign Affairs

“Chinese leader Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 visited the Philippines on Tuesday, November 20, to further strategic gains made under President Rodrigo Duterte, who hailed a ‘new impetus’ behind a relationship that his massive infrastructure ambitions could depend on,” reports Reuters.

  • Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30, 2016, and immediately reversed his country’s previous policies and cozied up to China, going to extraordinary lengths to court China’s favor and turning his back on the long-held alliance with the U.S. His efforts to sign trade deals and soothe territorial tensions with China were welcomed in Beijing.
  • Duterte is facing criticism “from opponents for making too many political concessions to China in return for billions of dollars of pledged Chinese loans and investments that have yet to materialize, or be committed to formally,” according to Reuters.
  • Despite Duterte’s popularity among voters, “surveys consistently show reservations about his China policy and his personal dislike of the United States.”
  • During Xi’s visit, he and Duterte “oversaw 29 agreements of sorts, many of them broad or vague, from cooperating in education, culture and industrial park development to jointly promoting infrastructure, agriculture cooperatives and establishing sanitation protocols for shipping coconuts.”
  • It is unclear what the connection is between the new agreements and previous nice noises about Chinese projects. Reuters notes that “of the 38 Philippine projects earmarked for Chinese involvement two years ago, only four were among the commitments made on Tuesday.”