Richard Heydarian is one of the most authoritative source regarding the Philippines and Rodrigo Duterte. According to Heydarian, in the past Duterte, a local politician in Davao with zero experience in global affairs, has been capable to pragmatically shift Manila’s foreign policy away from an ironclad and rigid alliance with Washington.
Duterte, differently from previous leaders, has been acute enough to understand that sometimes the Philippines’ national interests would have been better off by distancing from the US and binding more with Beijing.
However, Durerte has swung too much aggressively towards China and he is not appreciating anymore the value of the US deterrence against a more assertive Chinese presence in the South China Sea.The military apparatus, obviously, is not really in tune with Duterte’s pro China stances.
According to Heydarian, Duterte and his supporters are overestimating China’s assets and underestimating it’s liabilities: aging population, ecological catastrophe and structural economic slowdown. There will not be a complete collapse, as American scholars predict, but the physics of power and economics are hitting hard on China.