In the event of hostilities in the Taiwan Strait, Manila’s defence treaty with the US will give it little room to manoeuvre. Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s recent visit to China underscores his intent to have a constructive relationship with China, and it remains to be seen how the Philippines will navigate its relationships with both the China and the US.
While it is too early for his foreign policy platform to fully emerge, the Philippines' new president will have his hands full in calibrating Manila’s relationships with Washington and Beijing. It is not a foregone conclusion that he will lean strongly in either direction. This is in the context of continuing issues such as the South China Sea, with disputes over the Whitsun Reef and Second Thomas Shoal.
Even under China-friendly President Duterte, Chinese BRI projects in the Philippines still encountered strong political opposition and faced several challenges in their roll-out. Ultimately, a positive domestic response to the BRI hinges on whether Manila can negotiate mutually beneficial and fair deals that allow China to contribute to the Philippines' economic agenda.
Under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, party-to-party (P2P) relations have been forged and deepened between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and various Philippine political parties. Such P2P diplomacy offers China a new diplomatic channel to promote bilateral relations and complement confidence-building measures. It also enables Beijing to hedge at the sub-national level given the plurality of political bases in the Philippines. Philippine researcher Aaron Jed Rabena looks at the engagements thus far and examines how these may affect Philippine domestic politics.