History in the Making:Recorded Events Ph Leader Shifting to Communist China that Most Filipinos Miss
Long before he was elected president, Rodrigo Duterte let Beijing know the South China Sea was theirs.
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has made frequent appearances in the international headlines in the past few months. Since coming to power in late June, the former Davao City has mayor has come across as wildly unpredictable at times, with his coarse language, emotional outbursts, and his seemingly sudden pivot to China.
The latter has certainly been newsworthy, but it hasn’t been surprising—at least to anyone who happened to watch a news segment by CCTV News, China’s state broadcaster, posted online in May.
“The guy is saying exactly what he’s saying now,” said Richard Javad Heydarian, a political scientist at De La Salle University in Manila. “It’s not like he was hiding anything. It’s just that people in the Philippines were not paying attention.”
In the video Duterte (coming in at the 1:33 mark) questions the usefulness of a case then winding its way through an international tribunal, in which Manila challenged China’s maritime aggression against the Philippines. He notes that any decision the tribunal reaches would be unenforceable by the United Nations.
“If we cannot enforce, and if the United Nations cannot enforce its judgment, then what the heck?” he says in the video. “What are we supposed to do? Just sit there and wait for somebody to take our cudgels and go to war or demand obedience from China? For what?”
The CCTV segment narrator adds (at the 1:55 mark), “And if it were up to him, he says he would not count on the Americans coming to the Philippines’s rescue, and would have even considered dropping an arbitration case the Aquino administration filed against China.”
The timing of this is important. Heydarian, who also appeared in the segment, said he was interviewed for it in early May. The CCTV reporter told him Duterte’s interview was conducted earlier, in March or February. Duterte, described in the segment as the frontrunner, won the election in late May, taking office in late June. The tribunal issued its ruling in mid-July. So Duterte had made up his mind about the case, whatever the outcome, well before the ruling was issued or he won the election—and Beijing knew it all along.
The case had been initiated by the Philippines in 2013, under the administration of then-president Benigno Aquino III, and in response to aggressive tactics by China in the South China Sea. Handling the case was the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, ruling under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
In 2012 China seized Scarborough Shoal, a strategically located reef near the Philippine coast, and started blocking Filipino fishermen from operating there, even though they’d relied on the area’s rich fishing grounds for generations. It also prevented Philippine attempts to explore for oil and and natural gas within its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ), despite the country’s sole right to natural resources there, per UNCLOS.
China insists that a ”nine-dash line“ it has drawn, encompassing most of the sea, defines its territory, even if it overlaps with another nation’s EEZ, as it does with about 80% of the Philippines’ zone. China is insisting on ”joint development” of the resources—claiming, in effect, a cut of the profits from the Philippines’ assets.
The tribunal ruled in mid-July that China’s actions were illegal under UNCLOS, and it invalidated the nine-dash line. The Philippines erupted in celebration, with #chexit (“China exit”) becoming a popular hashtag on social media and the international community calling upon Beijing to abide by the ruling. With more than $5 trillion in global trade passing through the sea annually, many nations have a vested interest in keeping it open, and are unsettled by China’s claim.
Beijing vowed to ignore the decision and pressured others to do the same. Still, it was easy to imagine at the time that Beijing was sweating bullets over the tribunal’s ruling, though as the CCTV segment suggests, it probably never was. Perhaps Manila would leverage the legal victory to rally international public opinion against China, and help other nations around the South China Sea, like Vietnam and Malaysia, bring their own legal fights against China’s maritime aggression.
Beijing insisted all along on bilateral negotiations only, with no outside third party involved—especially some international tribunal. That policy went for the Philippines as well as for any other claimant nation in the sea. But many in the Philippines were against this, noting the arrangement would give far too much power to China, which dwarfs the Philippines economically and militarily and could easily overpower it in any negotiations or conflict—as it could most Southeast Asian nations.
Right after the July 12 ruling, the Philippines’ lead lawyer in the case, Paul Reichler, laid out a scenario in which the Philippines and other claimant nations around the South China Sea could band together against China’s aggression:
“If these other states stand up for their rights in the way that the Philippines has done, you get a situation where all of the relevant neighboring states are insisting that China withdraw its illegal claims and respect their legal rights, which have been defined and recognized and acknowledged today because those states have the same rights as the Philippines. It will depend to a great extent on how vigorously that all of the affected states—all of the states who have been prejudiced by the nine-dash line—assert their rights against China. When I use words like ‘vigorous’ and ‘assert,’ I’m talking about diplomatically, legally, and, above all, peacefully… If the other states refuse to be intimidated and continue to insist that their rights under the Law of the Sea convention be respected by China, as well as the rights of the Philippines, if they can work together in unity, you may see a different response from China in six months or in a year, or two years”
But Duterte, for whatever reason, ignored this notion of international teamwork, framing the situation instead as a choice between either going to war with China, or negotiating directly with it.
So it appears that for both Duterte and Beijing, the ecstatic reaction to the legal “victory” was, all along, a passing phase they simply had to patiently wait out.
Last week—about 90 days after coming to power—Duterte made his first state visit to a major country. Not surprisingly, it was China. Actually it was surprising, to those unaware of what Duterte’s intentions were all along, because traditionally a state visit to longtime ally the United States would come first. But it was not surprising to anyone who saw the segment on CCTV—a state broadcaster controlled by Beijing.
Many have supposed that Duterte moved away from the US and toward China because of US criticism over Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, with its flagrant human rights violations and extrajudicial killings. But as the CCTV segment suggests, Duterte was leaning toward China regardless.
Duterte seems more concerned with getting help from Beijing with developing infrastructure, including railways, than with defending his nation’s legal rights in the South China Sea. Indeed last week he suggested the tribunal ruling was nothing more than a “piece of paper with four corners”—dismissing the ruling much as he did the case earlier this year.
And as for Scarborough Shoal, Duterte didn’t seem interested in challenging China on seizing that in 2012 and making it off-limits to Filipino fishermen. Instead he said he “may” be able to get access to it again. (It would likely be conditional access at best.)
That’s as close as Duterte can legally get to basically letting China keep the reef it seized. Under the Philippine constitution it would be an impeachable offense for Duterte to give up the nation’s sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal (called Panatag Shoal in the Philippines).
And indeed, in exchange for agreeing last week to the bilateral talks Beijing wanted all along, Duterte scored billions of dollars worth of soft loans and credit facilities from China, and signed 13 memorandums of understanding, including one related to transportation and infrastructure projects. He also put pressure on Japan, already the top investor in the Philippines, to invest even more in his nation. (He followed his state visit to China with one to Japan.)
But China illegally seized Scarborough Shoal for a reason—not just for the fish, but because of its location. By building a militarized island there, as it’s done atop other reefs in the South China Sea in recent years, it could form a strategic triangle for monitoring and controlling the entire sea, and turning it into, as some analysts fear, a “Chinese lake” subject to the will of Beijing.
That would be good for neither international law, global and regional trade, nor, in the long run, the Philippines—no matter how many new trains or soft loans China provides.
Early October 2015, Duterte was visited by the newly appointed Chinese Consul General Song Ronghua plus four other Chinese officials from the Chinese consulate in Cebu.
OPINION: Dear Mayor Duterte, pls disclose what you told Chinese officials
(EXCLUSIVE) On Saturday evening, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte practically accused President Benigno Aquino III and Senator Antonio Trillanes of selling out to China. He vowed to investigate the role played by both officials in the loss of Scarborough Shoal to China.
What Duterte hasn’t told his supporters, though – including his new-found senatorial candidate Rafael Alunan – is that in early October 2015, Duterte was visited by the newly appointed Chinese Consul General Song Ronghua plus four other Chinese officials from the Chinese consulate in Cebu.
The visit came before the start of the filing for candidacy for the presidency and other national elective positions.
At that time of the visit, Duterte was still vacillating over running for president.
I’ve already written extensively about Aquino and Trillanes on the South China Sea issue. This is the first time I’m delving deeper into Duterte’s stance on the issue. For my story on this, see – Philippines ‘rejects China deal on disputed shoal’ – Chinese side reportedly offered to withdraw from Scarborough Shoal if Manila did not file document on dispute as China denies making any such offer.
Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile later revealed that the go-between for this offer was Trillanes. Two sources also separately told me the same thing.
As a long-time observer of Philippine-Chinese relations, I found the high-level visit last October by Chinese envoys to a mayor down south highly unusual.
First, because ever since the standoff over Scarborough Shoal in 2012, China has implemented an almost total snub of Philippine officials, except during such occasions as China National Day (October 1) or the celebration of the Lunar New Year.
You can count the number of top-level Filipino officials whom Chinese envoys still see outside of those two occasions. Among them is Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family.
When ConGen Song visited Duterte in Davao in early October, the Chinese official had newly arrived in the Philippines. Weeks later on October 21, ConGen Song would be wounded in a bizarre shooting of two of his staff at the consulate in Cebu during the celebration of a birthday party. (A retired Chinese consular official and his wife were tagged as the suspected perpetrators and hastily flown back to Beijing.)
What the photo of Song and Duterte suggests is that Mayor Duterte has an open pipeline to Chinese officials.
In contrast, Duterte has shunned talking to US Embassy officials. He has publicly disclosed that the US Embassy had also invited him to talk about his plans over the South China Sea dispute, but he hasn’t accepted the invitation.
Duterte bared: “The American embassy would like to talk to me. I want to make this public because I feel lukewarm toward the United States.”
Duterte indicated that he has not yet found the time in his schedule to meet with US envoys.
Coupled with his meeting with Chinese officials, Duterte also disclosed last March that “a Chinese” had partly funded his political ads. His exact words to reporters were: “May nagbayad niyan na Chinese sa initial ads ko.” He added, “Ayaw naman sabihin [kung sino siya].”
Which leads me to ask this question – is Duterte getting funding from a foreign Chinese corporation or the Chinese government? What I find really puzzling is that the tough-talking Mayor of Davao City, who has repeatedly warned that “blood would flow” if he ever gets elected President because he would be tough on criminals, seems all but ready to lie down and give up sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) claimed by the Philippines in the South China Sea.
I base this on the series of statements that Duterte has publicly stated on the issue.
I am assuming that as a candidate running for the highest office, he means what he says. Duterte has publicly said the following:
On February 29, 2016, he asked China to build a railway in exchange for silence and inaction on the part of the Philippines:
“Build us a railway just like the one you built in Africa and let’s set aside disagreements for a while. Build us a rail for Mindanao, build us a railway from Manila to Bicol, I will be happy, let us not fight. Build us a railway because no nation on earth ever progressed without a railway.”
He also offered himself up to the Chinese as a sacrifice:
“If worse comes to worst, I will not waste the lives of Filipino soldiers, I will go to the boundary line, myself; maybe have someone take me there, and I will go there on my own with a jet ski, bringing along with me a flag and a pole and once I disembark, I will plant the flag on the runway and tell the Chinese authorities, ‘Kill me.’ Huwag na ang sundalo (Don’t kill the soldiers).
"I’ll tell (the Chinese authorities) ’kill me,’ because I also want to be a hero.”
On March 7, 2016, he said he did not believe in the Aquino government’s move to bring the conflict before an international arbitral tribunal because anyway, China will not abide by the ruling:
“I have a similar position as China’s. I don’t believe in solving the conflict through an international tribunal. China has said it will not abide by whatever that tribunal’s decision will be. That’s the same case with me, especially if the ruling will be against the Philippines.”
Later, his own campaign team backtracked on his behalf but he hasn’t.
Duterte has also offered not to talk about ownership of the islands in exchange for joint exploration and economic perks:
“Let’s not talk about ownership and I will not make noise about it. If you want, let’s do a joint exploration. Just give me my part [of the agreement] whatever it is, [it may be] a train system from Manila to Mindanao. For six years, I will shut up.”
On April 15, 2016, Duterte said he would start bilateral talks with China, or talk with China directly, on the issue. He said,
“We will not insist on the ownership for the simple reason that we cannot enforce our desire to own….There’s no conflict. You have joint exploration without giving up sovereignty. It’s like you told your neighbor, ‘let’s not talk about who owns that but let’s split the profits.’ There are legal formulas around the world recognized by the US, accepting that.”
To put it bluntly, as a Filipino, I am shocked.
All these approaches – joint exploration, trains and aid for amicable relations with China, and bilateral negotiations with China – all these had been tried before and failed with disastrous results for the Philippines.
After President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo agreed to a joint seismic exploration of a portion of the South China Sea where China did not even have any claims, China put one over the Philippines. It started claiming even this portion.
President Arroyo also accepted a concessional loan from China to fund North Rail. When the South China Sea conflict erupted during the administration of President Benigno Aquino, Jr., China made the entire concessional loan due and demandable. This nearly affected the Philippine economy, President Aquino told me in an interview last year.
Before the arbitration, President Aquino also tried to explore joint exploration and bilaterals. But the negotiations bogged down over China’s insistence that any contract should be signed under its own laws, and not under Philippine law.
Duterte said on April 15: “We will not insist on the ownership for the simple reason that we cannot enforce our desire to own.”
This reminds me of what the late foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus told female overseas contract workers at the height of the Iraq-Kuwait war when they faced sexual assault – that they might as well lie back and enjoy the rape since anyway it can’t be prevented.
It’s intriguing that Duterte seems to be very confident that China will negotiate with him fair and square if he is the President. I really wonder what gives him that air of confidence over this very thorny issue.
2016: Philippines' Duterte: 'bye-bye America' and we don't need your money
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a visit in Tarlac city in northern Philippines December 11, 2016.
(Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told the United States on Saturday to prepare for repeal of an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises, declaring "bye-bye America", and we don't need your money.
But Duterte suggested relations could improve under a President Donald Trump. "I like your mouth, it's like mine, yes Mr President. We are similar and people with the same feathers flock together."
Returning his focus to the present U.S. administration which has criticised him over reports of extra-judicial killings in his campaign against drugs, he said:
"We do not need you," Duterte said in a news conference after arriving from visits to Cambodia and Singapore. "Prepare to leave the Philippines. Prepare for the eventual repeal or abrogation of the VFA."
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), signed in 1998, accorded legal status to thousands of U.S. troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.
"Bye, bye America and work on the protocols that will eventually move you out of the Philippines," he said, adding his decision would come "any day soon" after reviewing another military deal, Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement.
The firebrand leader was visibly upset and vented his anger on Washington because of a decision by the Millennium Challenge Corp (MCC) board to defer vote on the re-selection of Manila for compact development due to human rights issues.
"We do not need the money. China said they will provide so many," he said. "The politics here in Southeast Asia is changing."
“I am Chinese”: Rodrigo Duterte explained the Philippines’ shift in the South China Sea to China’s CCTV
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, Beijing’s new best friend, has swiftly pivoted away from the US and into China’s arms, and arrived in Beijing today for a high-profile visit where he’s promised to improve economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Since he was elected little over 100 days ago, Duterte has trashed the US and played up links between the Philippines and China, even repeatedly bringing up the fact that he has a Chinese grandfather who came from Xiamen.
In a 20-minute interview broadcast by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Oct. 18 (though it was recorded in Manila on Oct. 13), Duterte and host Shui Junyi discussed a range of issues, but the interview was dominated by the two countries’ territorial dispute in the South China Sea and Manila’s about-face over the dispute.
Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, challenged Beijing’s aggression in the South China Sea in an international tribunal and won, with a July 12 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague invalidating China’s sweeping maritime claims. It was a huge victory for the Philippines and supported by Western allies like the US and Australia, but Duterte seems uninterested in using the result to rally international pressure against China—despite once vowing to ride into the South China Sea on a jet ski while waving the Philippine flag.
In the CCTV interview, Duterte maintained that he wasn’t “breaking away” from the US, but that he was merely being “pragmatic” and wants to be “friends with everybody.” On the Hague tribunal he said, “if it costs a third world war, what might be the point of insisting on the ownership of the waters? It does not bring prosperity.”Ahead of his visit, Duterte played down the dispute over fishing rights in the South China Sea with China, pledging instead to only discuss trade issues. Reuters reported Wednesday, however, that Beijing is considering granting conditional fishing rights to the Philippines in Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Southeast Asian country in 2012. “Someday, the South China Sea will just be what, China Sea?… 100 years from now, [the South China Sea] might be meaningless… the ocean cannot feed…[the] human race,” Duterte told CCTV. ”Your fish is my fish. We will talk, we will resolve, it is not the time to go to war.”Shui asked how sincere his new diplomatic approach was, to which Duterte responded: “Maybe because I am Chinese and I believe in sincerity.” He added that one quarter of the Philippine population is of Chinese descent, and that at a recent business forum, “everybody [was] shouting” to accompany him to China.
Duterte: I love Xi Jinping, need China more than anybody else
For being a ready hand to the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that he loves Chinese President Xi Jinping because the latter understands his problems and is always willing to help.
“I just simply love Xi Jinping. He understood, he understands my problem and he is willing to help,” Duterte said in a press conference in Davao before leaving country to China to attend the Boao Forum for Asia.
Asked by a Chinese reporter on the relationship between the Philippines and China, the President said it will bloom into something big and beautiful like a flower.
He also believes China is an important factor in the country’s Build, Build, Build plan.
“Of course, China is a very important ingredient there. You factor almost everything from a hard start. But… money, but of course it would not really be enough. Every day the cost of money goes up, that’s the problem. So, you may have a pricing today far different from last week,” he said.
Duterte: It's Russia, China, PH 'against the world'
BEIJING, Oct 20 (Reuters) - As President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from the United States and sought to strengthen ties with China, he said he will also talk to Russia's Vladimir Putin.
"I've realigned myself in your [China] ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world - China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way," he said.
Duterte's efforts to engage China, months after a tribunal ruling in the Hague over South China Sea disputes in favor of the Philippines, marks a reversal in foreign policy since the 71-year-old former mayor took office on June 30.
"America has lost now," Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people at a forum in the Great Hall of the People, attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
"With that, in this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States," Duterte said to applause. "I have separated from them. So I will be dependent on you for all time. But do not worry. We will also help as you help us."
China has pulled out all the stops to welcome Duterte, including a marching band complete with batton-twirling band master at his official welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People, which most leaders do not get.
RED CARPET WELCOME
President Xi Jinping, meeting Duterte earlier in the day, called the visit a "milestone" in ties.
Xi told Duterte that China and the Philippines were brothers and they could "appropriately handle disputes", though he did not mention the South China Sea in remarks made in front of reporters.
"I hope we can follow the wishes of the people and use this visit as an opportunity to push China-Philippines relations back on a friendly footing and fully improve things," Xi said.
Following their meeting, during which Duterte said relations with China had entered a new "springtime", Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin said the South China Sea issue was not the sum total of relations.
"The two sides agreed that they will do what they agreed five years ago, that is to pursue bilateral dialogue and consultation in seeking a proper settlement of the South China Sea issue," Liu said.
China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
In 2012, China seized the disputed Scarborough Shoal and denied Philippine fishermen access to its fishing grounds.
Liu said the shoal was not mentioned and he did not answer a question about whether Philippine fishermen would be allowed there. He said both countries had agreed on coastguard and fisheries cooperation, but did not give details.
SEA ROW TAKES "BACK SEAT"
Duterte's tone toward Beijing is in contrast to the language he has used against the United States, after being infuriated by U.S. criticism of his bloody war on drugs.
He has called U.S. President Barack Obama a "son of a bitch" and told his to "go to hell" while alluding to severing ties with the old colonial power.
On Wednesday, to the cheers of hundreds of Filipinos in Beijing, Duterte said Philippine foreign policy was veering towards China.
"I will not go to America anymore. We will just be insulted there," Duterte said. "So time to say goodbye my friend."
Duterte on Wednesday said the South China Sea arbitration case would "take the back seat" during talks, and that he would wait for the Chinese to bring up the issue rather than doing so himself.
Xi said issues that could not be immediately be resolved should be set aside, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
China has welcomed the Philippines approaches, even as Duterte has vowed not to surrender any sovereignty to Beijing, which views the South China Sea Hague ruling as null and void.
China has also expressed support for his drug war, which has raised concern in Western capitals about extrajudicial killing.
Duterte's overtures to China have been accompanied by signs of improving business ties with the world's second largest economy.
China's Liu said Beijing will restore Philippine agricultural exports to China and provide financing for Philippine infrastructure. (Writing by Michael Martina and Ryan Woo; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel)
Duterte: China won’t allow me to be ousted
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was named by Forbes magazine as the world’s most powerful person, assured President Rodrigo Duterte that Beijing would protect him from any move to oust him from his office.
Duterte made this remark in a speech during the send-off ceremony of 50 Filipino scientists who will conduct research on the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, in Casaguran, Aurora on May 15, Tuesday.
“The assurances of Xi Jinping was very encouraging, we will not — ayan nandiyan ngayon sila (they are there) — we will not allow you to be taken out from your office and we will not allow the Philippines to go to the dogs,” Duterte said.
“Siguro kasi (Maybe because I’m a) freely elected leader naman ako. It could be a very justified statement,” he added.
It can be recalled that in March 2017, Magdalo Party-list Representative Gary Alejano filed an impeachment case against the President over the alleged extrajudicial killings due to his war on drugs, however, the House of Representatives justice committee dismissed this for insufficiency in substance.
Reacting to Duterte’s latest statement, Senator Panfilo Lacson said that no foreign country, but the Philippines and its people, can determine and decide what is best for the country.
“If he really said that, and in the context that we are made to understand, all I can say is, God help the Philippines! We are a democratic and sovereign country,” Lacson said on Wednesday, May 16.
Lacson’s statement was echoed by Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, an opposition leader, saying that Duterte should rely on Filipinos and not on China.
“Ang pahayag bang ito ang kapalit ng pananahimik ng administrasyon sa (Is this statement an exchange for keeping the administration silent on) West Philippine Sea? Is this the reason why we are willing to enter into loans with China even if the interest rates are 4 to 5 times higher than that of Japan or South Korea?” Pangilinan asked.
“Is China support for this administration to ensure its iron clad grip on power? Whose interest is being pursued by depending on China? Is it the nation’s interest or the interest of those in power that is being pushed here?” he added.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, on the other hand, reminded Duterte that no one is trying to oust him from his office.
“No one is trying to kick him out; he is doing the destabilizing all by himself,” Trillanes said as he expressed disbelief over the President’s claims that Beijing would come to the Philippines’ defense once a conflict broke out in the area.
Despite a maritime dispute in the South China Sea (SCS), Duterte and Xi affirmed diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China when they met last month at the Boao Forum for Asia in the Southern province of Hainan.
In his speech yesterday, Duterte believes the nearest country that could help protect the Philippines will be China.
“China said, ‘we will be there.’ Hindi ako sigurado sa Amerikano (I’m not sure with Americans),” the Chief Executive said.
Americans, he added, has “lost its will to fight” and the United States (US) is now “deteriorating.”
More than 3 million Chinese allowed entry into Philippines since 2016 — Immigration data
More than three million Chinese nationals have been allowed to enter in the Philippines since 2016, coinciding with the rise of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has pulled out all the stops to thaw his country’s frosty ties with China.
A total of 3.12 million Chinese citizens arrived in the Philippines from January 2016 to May 2018, data provided by the Bureau of Immigration to Philstar.com showed.
Of that figure, 2.44 million came from mainland China while the rest were from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
In 2017, Chinese arrivals in the Philippines surged to 1.38 million from 1.02 million in 2016.
In the first five months of 2018 alone, the influx of Chinese nationals already reached 717,638.
Overall tourist arrivals in the Philippines in the first two months of 2018 reached more than 1.4 million, up 16 percent from 1.21 million in the same period last year, boosted by 56 percent increase in Chinese travelers, according to data released by the Department of Tourism last March.
According to a Bloomberg report dated May 4, Chinese migration to the Philippines—which was partly stirred up by the Southeast Asian country’s booming gaming industry—has been pushing up property prices in the capital Manila, where offshore gaming operators hired thousands of employees, most of whom are Chinese nationals.
Opposition senator Leila de Lima last week filed a resolution urging the Senate to investigate the steady stream of Chinese arrivals in the Philippines that she said “not only steals jobs away from ordinary Filipinos but also triggers property surge on many developed areas.”
Despite the influx, most of the foreigners who were denied entry to the Philippines from 2016 to 2018 were Chinese nationals, the same BI data showed.
From 2016 to 2017, a total of 3,722 Chinese citizens were “excluded.”
Meanwhile, 764 passengers from China were turned away from January to May 2018.
In November 2016, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana reportedly said the two countries held a bilateral consultation to relax visa restrictions “to encourage tourism on both ways on mutually beneficial terms.”
The Immigration bureau earlier said a foreigner may be barred from entering the country if he is likely to become dependent on government for “subsistence due to his lack of capacity to support his stay in the country, thus making him an added burden to society.”
More illegal Chinese workers in Philippines
They are stealing jobs and raising property prices, claim senators
President Rodrigo Duterte's rapprochement with China, driven in most part by economic reasons, has unwittingly led to a huge influx of undocumented Chinese workers over the past two years.
They have been accused of not only elbowing Filipinos out of lucrative jobs but also jacking up property prices.
Labour officials and senior diplomats attending a Senate hearing yesterday admitted that at least 150,000 Chinese in the offshore gaming industry could be working without permits, but one senior lawmaker has suggested that the actual number may be double that.
The Labour Department issued 115,652 Alien Employment Permits (AEPs) from 2015 to last year. About 51,980 went to Chinese workers.
"We observe that there is indeed an upward trend in the issuance of AEPs," Labour Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad told the Senate.
Some senators believe, however, that the latest numbers do not line up with facts on the ground.
"You go to shopping malls, condominiums. You'd think you were in China. I believe there are more than 200,000 (Chinese workers) here now... They are not just in gaming. They're also in restaurants, construction, mining," said Senator Joel Villanueva, head of the Senate committee leading an investigation into the issue.
Senator Franklin Drilon, a former labour secretary, said there could be as many as 400,000 Chinese working for gaming operators and other outsourcing companies that mostly service clients in China.
Nearly 2,000 illegal Chinese workers have been apprehended in the Philippines over the past two years.
The biggest haul was in 2016, when 1,200 Chinese employees of a gaming firm inside the Clark special economic zone in Pampanga province, an hour north of the capital, Manila, were rounded up.
In May last year, nine Chinese and an Indonesian were nabbed for operating dredging vessels and hauling black sand without permits.
That same year, in September, 34 Chinese were arrested at an online gaming company in Pasay city, south of Manila.
A Chinese chef was pilloried online in May after he was seen in a video beating up a Filipino waitress at his restaurant. Investigations showed that he did not have a work permit and could not even produce a passport.
Last week, 93 Chinese were arrested from another online gambling outfit, in Pasig city, east of Manila.
"We have so many of our countrymen looking for jobs abroad. When they leave, they are abused. Yet, there are jobs here that seem to be handed over to other nationals... Our workers shouldn't be robbed of jobs," said Mr Villanueva.
The large number of Chinese migrants has also led to spiralling property prices.
"With so many of them coming here, they are not just robbing Filipinos of jobs, but they're also taking away our homes," said Mr Villanueva. He cited a Facebook post that went viral here about a real estate agent looking for 400 condo units for 3,000 Chinese workers.
Condo rentals at the prime Manila Bay area, where many of the casinos and online gaming companies are headquartered, have risen by as much as 62 per cent in the first six months of the year. Property prices there now range from 45,700 pesos (S$1,200) to 76,200 pesos per sq ft.
Chinese buyers made up almost 30 per cent of residential reservation sales at SM Prime, the country's largest property developer, in the first quarter of last year.
Similarly, the share of Chinese nationals who bought homes from Ayala Land, another real estate giant, jumped to almost half of all sales to foreign buyers, last year. The figure was 30 per cent in 2016.
The Chinese migration has been sparked by Mr Duterte's push to have closer ties with Beijing.
He has pivoted towards Beijing since winning the presidency in 2016 as he courted Chinese investments to push Philippine growth through an ambitious US$169 billion (S$232 billion) infrastructure-building programme.
Chinese offshore gaming firms have particularly benefited from this rapprochement. They have set up operations in the Philippines to skirt tougher regulations on gambling in China.
Duterte: Allow illegal Chinese to work here
President Rodrigo Duterte would rather allow illegal Chinese workers here to stay, as deporting them might trigger tit for tat that could affect 300,000 Filipinos in China.
“The Chinese here, just let them work here. Just let them. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China,” the President said during a campaign rally of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Biñan City, Laguna province, on Sunday.
Pivot to China
Mr. Duterte has come under criticism for his pivot to China for loans and grants to finance his ambitious infrastructure program, even putting aside a ruling in favor of the Philippines by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in a challenge to China’s claim to nearly all of the South China Sea, including waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Duterte Opens Up The Philippines To Chinese Workers, As Filipinos Seek Jobs Overseas
Chinese workers are “flooding” the Philippines.
That’s according to a story published recently in South China Morning Post. Worse, Duterte’s administration is losing count of how many Chinese workers are in the country legally or illegally, according to the same source.
The flood of Chinese workers follows Duterte’s abandoning the Philippines close ties with the US and the cozying up to China.
This major shift in the country’s foreign policy includes a big flip-flop on the South China Sea disputes, and allegedly, an agreement between China and the Philippines to relax visa restrictions.
A total of 3.12 million Chinese citizens entered the Philippines from January 2016 to May 2018, according to the Bureau of Immigration. Within these figures is a number of Chinese workers, which is still unknown.
What isn’t unknown is the number of Filipinos seeking jobs overseas, which reached 2.2 million as of 2016.
PH may import skilled workers from China
IMPORT LABOR. Representative Joey Salceda says there is a need to boost the workforce. Rappler file photo
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Representative Joey Salceda said Monday, April 30, that the Philippines is considering importing skilled construction workers from China and Burma once the so-called 'golden age of infrastructure program' of the Duterte administration or Build Build Build gets into in full swing.
Salceda, vice chairman of the committee on appropriations said the Philippines is short of 3.9 million skilled construction workers to support the centerpiece project of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte: ‘I trust China’
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has declared that he still trusted China amid claims that it was capable of controlling the Philippines’ power grid.
Speaking to reporters in Malacañang on Thursday night, Duterte said he did not see China’s co-ownership of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) as a threat to national security.
He said that the military could handle any issues concerning the country’s national security.
“May mga (There are) security issues that can be handled by the military. It cannot be a problem,” the President said during a media interview.
“China has talked to us, through me. Kulang pa ang Pilipino ng trust (Filipinos don’t have much trust) but I trust them. I take their word for it,” he added.
Duterte made the statement after some senators and former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio have raised concerns over China’s co-ownership of the NGCP.
China’s State Grid Corporation owns 40 percent of the NGCP, a privately owned consortium.
Carpio on Tuesday said Beijing’s control of NGCP should be a “cause for concern” because it would be “easy” for the foreign country to shut down the Philippines’ power grid by “inject[ing] malware or software.”
But the President said he would believe China rather than Carpio, who was “so enamored with China.”
“Hindi ako naniniwala diyan kay Carpio wala namang matinong sinabi iyan eh. Ano ang sinabi niyang nakatulong sa Pilipinas (I don’t believe Carpio because he does not make any sense. What are the things he said that became beneficial to the Philippines)?” he said.
In a survey conducted in September, 54 percent of Filipinos had little trust in China, while 21 percent said they had much trust in the communist state. It resulted in “poor” net trust of -33, down by 9 points from the “bad” -24 rating in June 2019.
Malacañang previously expressed optimism that Filipinos would eventually appreciate China, considering Duterte’s push for an independent foreign policy that is favorable to the Philippines.
“The Palace is not surprised, as it does not feel affronted, with the results of the survey released yesterday, November 20, by the Social Weather Stations which indicate that China remains to be the least trusted country among Filipinos with a net trust rating of -33,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“It is in our belief, however, that China, like any other country, will be eventually appreciated by the Filipinos by reason of the President’s independent foreign policy which has resulted in significant benefits favorable to the Philippines,” he added.
Since assuming the presidency, Duterte has sought to downplay Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing in exchange for improved ties with the world’s second largest economy.
Duterte has also refused to flaunt the Philippines’ victory against China in a United Nations-backed arbitration court in 2016 which invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims to the waters.
But the President defended his approach, saying Manila could not yet stand up to Beijing, whose military and economy were far superior.
Recently, Duterte said he would invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States and ask the the country’s long-time ally to send its Seventh Fleet to the disputed waters to confront the Chinese forces.
The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone and calls it the West Philippine Sea.