Think tank calls views on Duterte’s pivot to China ‘too simplistic’


In this Sept. 23, 2015, file photo, Chinese Coast Guard members approach Filipino fishermen as they confront each other off Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, also called the West Philippine Sea. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has considerably reduced tensions with China over contested South China Sea waters, says he plans to declare a marine sanctuary at the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Such a move would keep away both Filipino and Chinese fishermen and prevent China from constructing any facilities, like it did on seven other features farther south in the Spratly archipelago. AP/Renato Etac, File
MANILA, Philippines — Observations that the Philippines is cozying up to China and veering away from allies like the United States (US) and Japan under President Rodrigo Duterte are too simplistic, a think tank director said.

Shingo Yamagami, acting director general of the foreign affairs think tank Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), said that such observations from the foreign press are “too simplistic and off the mark.”

Yamagami pointed out that the Philippine president made a visit to Vietnam before his trip to China and then afterward headed for Japan. The two countries have competing claims with China on a group of islands.

Japan and China lay claim to a group of islands which is called Senkaku by Tokyo and Diaoyu by Beijing. Meanwhile, Vietnam and China have disputes over Paracel Islands called as Xisha by Beijing and Hoàng Sa by Hanoi.

“Before President Duterte went to Beijing, he went to Hanoi. After his trip to Beijing, he came to Tokyo. You may have seen the text of the Philippine-Japan joint statement issued by Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe and President Duterte. It is perfect. Perfect from Japanese viewpoint as well,” Yamagami said Thursday at the Pilipinas Conference by Stratbase ADR Institute.