President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his inaugural speech promised to pursue an independent foreign policy as his new administration inherits the challenges that come with the great power competition between the U.S. and China.
“We can trust no one else when it comes to what’s best for us. Past history has often proven that. Solutions from outside divided us, none deepened our understanding,” he said without naming countries.
Marcos denounced interventions that he said came at the country’s expense. “They were always at our expense. Never forget we are Filipinos — one nation, one republic, indivisible. We resisted and never failed to defeat foreign attempts to break up our country in my father’s watch. His strongest critics have conceded that,” he claimed.
Duterte warmed ties with China despite the military superpower’s aggressions in the West Philippine Sea. He initiated but later canceled the abrogation of the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. As he was about to end his term, the U.S. and Philippine militaries held their biggest war games yet.
In his final days in office, Duterte also decided to scrap joint oil and gas exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea. This allows Marcos a clean slate in managing the sea dispute.
Observers said Marcos should learn from Duterte’s administration.
Despite Duterte’s so-called pivot to China during his administration, Beijing continued to harass the Philippine Navy ships and civilian fishing ships in the West Philippine Sea, prompting the Department of Foreign Affairs to file hundreds of diplomatic protests.
Duterte betted on an Asean Code of Conduct, hoping China would cooperate in drafting it, but it “went nowhere.”
Abuza said China would continue “to pay very close attention to US-Philippine relations.”.
“The next president is going to be dealing with [Chinese President] Xi Jinping for the rest of their term because President Xi will get re-elected,” he said.
The U.S. is also expected to work towards keeping the Philippines, one of its oldest allies in the region, on its side.
Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan was present during Marcos’ inauguration while the U.S. sent the husband of United States Vice President Kamala Harris, Douglas Emhoff, to lead Washington D.C.'s delegation.
— PCIJ, July 2022