By Sputnik News
Representatives for China and the Philippines met for five days of talks this week, marking the start of reconciliation between the two countries which, since 2012, have been in conflict over the South China Sea.
Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with Eric Draitser, political analyst and founder of StopImperialism.org, about Chinese-Filipino relations and the role played by the US.
Draitser remarked that the meetings are “a pretty important development in the region, because the president of the Philippines has at least rhetorically begun to chart a much different course of action, when it comes to bilateral relations with China. Those people who observe the region, even from afar, should know that the Philippines in many ways has been the leading force of anti-China posture in the entire region. I think we could point to the very close relationship between the Philippines and the United States that explains that.”
The analyst suggested that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s attempts at appearing to be independent of US influence and his impending accession to the leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has caused some concern in the Western world’s halls of power.
“That is critical because ASEAN has long been the institutional international forum through which the United States has been able to maintain hegemony in the region,” Draitser said, adding, “it has tried to use ASEAN as a club against China these last few years, and the fact that the leadership of the ASEAN will shift from Laos to the Philippines is very significant.”
Loud & Clear host Brian Becker asked, “What was the basis for the breakdown between the Philippines and China in 2012, ultimately leading to the arbitration claim by the Philippines, and how likely is it that either side will budge on their claims to these disputed islands?”
“This is about control, this is about hegemony,” Draitser responded. “This is about the US ability to maintain the status quo that has been in effect since the second world war, specifically US dominance in the Pacific.”
Beyond the US trying to assert itself in the region, Draitser claims that the vast amounts of untapped natural energy reserves in the South China Sea also explain why Washington has a stake in the relationship between China and the Philippines.
“The South China Sea is critical for global commercial shipping and much of global trade,” he said. “This is what drives a lot of China’s economic development…all of these initiatives are predicated on the idea that China wants to have free lanes of communication and secure commercial shipping, and that is what the US wants to block.”
When Becker asked Draitser what he thought could happen if the US-Filipino relationship deteriorated, he answered, “I think it’s quite likely that the US will be prepared to do whatever it takes to maintain their dominance over the Philippines, up to and including overthrowing the government.”
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