A Chinese “expert” on the South China Sea has predicted that the Philippines will suffer a “huge loss of investments” from China if it elects a new leader who is closely identified with the United States.
According to Chen Xiangmiao, an assistant research fellow at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, the Philippines “need(s) China’s support” no matter who wins in the 2022 presidential race, especially in tackling the problems of economic recovery, public health and security.
“If the new leader goes too far toward the US, there could be a huge loss of investment from China, something the Philippines cannot afford at the moment,” Chen said in an interview published on Sept. 8 by the Global Times, one of the official newspapers of the Chinese Communist Party.
Chen also belittled the chances of “presidential contenders” associated with the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and backed by the United States who are “polling poorly”.
A pre-election survey conducted by the Octa Research from July 12 to 18, showed that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, are the top picks for the 2022 presidential and vice-presidential race, respectively.
Sara, who garnered 28 percent of the 1,200 adult Filipinos polled, was followed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos (13 percent), Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso (11 percent), and Senators Grace Poe and Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao (10 percent each). Vice President Leni Robredo who ran in the 2016 race under the Liberal Party was in 6th place tied with Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano. Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacon, a known close friend of Aquino, was in the 10th spot.
“Sara, who has strong support among women, will inherit her father’s political legacy… Moreno does not have a deep political family background, but his leadership is pro-people and pragmatic,” Chen told the Chinese paper.
So far, only Senators Pacquaio and Lacson have officially declared their intentions to run for president in next year’s election while President Duterte announced that he is seeking the vice presidency during the recent PDP-Laban party (Alfonso Cusi faction) convention in Pampanga.
Chen said after the turbulent period from 2012 to 2016, China-Philippines relations have entered a “mature stage.” It was the period when the Philippines filed an arbitration case against Beijing before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague for its excessive nine-dash line claims in the South China Sea. The Arbitral Tribunal handed down an award on July 12, 2016 in favor of the Philippines.
However, Duterte opted to set aside the ruling in favor of Chinese loans and investments.
“The two countries are in a state of both conflict and cooperation, but the conflict is controllable and cooperation is gradually increasing,” Chen said.
Chen predicts that a post-Duterte era is likely to continue this maturity, “because it may be the only option that serves the best interests of the Philippines”.