Comment on Duterte’s recent Russia and China political junkets

The recent trip to Russia (October 1-6) by Rodrigo Duterte, as well as his recent visit to China (August 28 to September 1), were costly political junkets. Duterte had at least two self-serving objectives.

The first, is to counter international isolation and pressure arising from the UN Human Rights Commission’s July 11 resolution seeking an investigation into the widespread killings perpetrated by state security forces in the course of his regime’s drug war hoax. Duterte hopes to use his “alliance” with China and Russia to induce some countries to withdraw their vote from the aforementioned resolution.

To secure the support of China and Russia, Duterte invited their biggest capitalists to invest in the country and take advantage of cheap Philippine labor and access to natural resources. To the detriment of Philippine national interests, Duterte has offered deals to both the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and the Russian Rosneft Oil Company to invest in oil exploration activities within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The second objective is to strengthen his “negotiating position” viz-a-vis the US in order to press the Trump government to provide his regime with more purchases of military equipment. By sidling up to China and Russia, Duterte claims he has made the US “insecure” about its military alliance with the Philippines.

However, as Duterte has himself revealed, his handling of diplomatic relations is always “pera-pera lang” (“all about money”). He has repeatedly issued statements claiming of plans to purchase arms from Russia, at times echoed by known stooge (which will go against US policy of not selling weapons to countries who buy weapons from Russia.) Like a child throwing tantrums, Duterte merely wants more candies from the US including brand new rifles, attack helicopters, rockets, artillery rounds and other materiél used in his war of suppression.

The recent visits to Russia and China also highlight Duterte’s mendicant foreign policy, where he begs for loans and foreign investments. Without a change in the local economic system, trade relations with the more advanced capitalist countries are always an unequal exchange between their finished manufactured commodities and the country’s cheap, raw and semiprocessed goods.

Duterte’s recent visits to Russia and China and his overall diplomatic tactics do not serve the country’s national interests, rather are an extension of his Machiavellian politics where he seeks to perpetuate his power through tyranny and terror.