Back to the Future?
This chapter first provides an overview of the history of Sino-Philippine relations, noting the strong improvement during Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s term as president from 2001-2010. It uses each president’s annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) as well as data on the number of state visits to and from China to illustrate the relative strength of these relations over time. The chapter then provides evidence that, despite much closer relations with the Arroyo administration, major investments from China agreed to by Arroyo were halted due to strong domestic opposition. Given the Philippine’s relatively democratic institutions, opposition in the courts, the legislature, the media, and civil society was able to force the administration to halt these Chinese projects and end efforts at cooperation between the two governments in the South China Sea. The chapter also presents the Philippines case against Chinese claims and activities in the South China Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, which the Philippines instituted partially due to the inability of ASEAN to act collectively regarding the disputes. It concludes by noting efforts of Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to improve relations with China but suggests that these too may be hampered by domestic political opposition.
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