When Neofascists Confer

How many of us remember that WWII in the Pacific began not with Pearl Harbor but with a conflict between the US and China over access to the South China Sea?

While Trump twists, tevoes, and tweets, it  looks like that the Philippines is making love with China and jointly carving up the South China Sea. Trumpist Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to deepen relations with China despite its extensive island-building in disputed parts of the South China Sea, in the hopes of securing billions of dollars’ worth of investments from Beijing.   Corporate China already claims nearly all of the strategically vital waterway, despite counter-claims from several regional states including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.  Worse yet, the South China Sea is the major shipping channel that connects Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and even the American west coast to the oil rich resources of the middle east, the Suez canal’s shipping and much of Africa.

Duterte’s foreign minister said,  “China in all good faith wants to help us. And they are not asking for anything, no conditions. They just want to help. They have so much money,  I am on friendly terms with China. I am friends with Xi Jinping,”  adding that China would import fruit from the Philippines and invest in building bridges across Manila’s main river.

Duterte has sought closer ties with China and Russia while distancing the Philippines from its traditional ally, the United States.  Last month, he alarmed observers when he issued a chairman’s statement, after hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, which took a soft stance towards Chinese actions in the South China Sea.  The statement ignored an international tribunal ruling last year which said China’s claims to most of the sea were unlawful.

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