I was a bit surprised to read a letter to the editor in The Financial Express of June 27 written by Lauren Arce, Information Attaché of the Philippines Embassy in Dhaka. In the letter she has expressed her concern regarding Sayed Kamaluddin's opinion piece on "G-7 Summit, China and rising global tensions." Ms. Arce went on to say that Mr. Kamaluddin has some misconceptions regarding the maritime disputes in the South China Sea in regard to Philippines' position. Then she cited some facts.
The ongoing maritime spats between China and the Philippines is finally coming to an end as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is all set to pass a final ruling on the matter in a few week's time. Experts are saying that if there is a favourable outcome in the arbitration case, the Philippines' incoming president Rodrigo Duterte will have to decide what he is going to do. As a self-proclaimed 'socialist' who is linked with the Philippines' communists, he is not likely to confront China on such issues. He has already dubbed Xi Jinping a 'great leader.' I have also read that Dutrete is very sceptical about the role of Washington in safeguarding the Philippines' interest. US has always claimed that the Philippines is its great ally, and the latter continues to enjoy uninterrupted benefits as a result of the continued friendship. Some critics are apprehensive that Duterte might compromise on Philippines' dispute with China in course of his negotiations with China in an effort to seek Chinese help to upgrade and rebuild its infrastructure system.
It is hard to say what exactly Duterte will do until the court makes its ruling. But people in the Philippines are concerned that China will have the upper hand.
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