Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte tightens grip as the Philippines falls apart

MANILA – Facing an acute economic crisis, a persistent Covid-19 outbreak and declining popularity, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has fittingly extended a state of national calamity for another year. While the move will allow the government to adopt emergency measures to stabilize food and basic…

Philippines’ Duterte Challenges China at U.N.: South China Sea Invasion Is Illegal

Speaking in a virtual speech at the 75th annual U.N. general assembly on Tuesday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that his country “firmly rejects” Beijing’s recent “attempts to undermine” international law by illegally encroaching upon other nations’ sovereign territory in the South China Sea. 0…

Did Trump really spoil America’s Asia alliances?

By some assessments, Donald Trump – aka the destroyer of America’s bilateral alliances in Asia – has torpedoed Washington’s position in the region, leaving in his wake waves of reputation damage and mistrust. But it’s worthwhile recalling the supposed region-wide esteem in which the United…

Don’t Make the Election About the Court

I know that Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s empty Supreme Court seat has provoked an epic, long-awaited clash between Democrats and Republicans, that the very principle of judicial independence hangs dangerously in the balance. I realize that the social-media wave cannot be stopped, that the talking heads…

There’s no such thing as a Southeast Asian ‘strongman’

A few years ago, the professor of risk management Nassim Nicholas Taleb pondered the question of what’s the opposite of “fragile.” For many readers this may seem an easy answer – perhaps “strong” or “stable,” maybe “resilient.” Interestingly enough, Taleb opted for what was staring…

Why Duterte pardoned a murderous US Marine

MANILA – In a move with a geopolitical twist, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte recently granted an “absolute pardon” to an American serviceman convicted of the murder of a Filipina transgender in 2014. The decision comes only months after the Filipino leader reversed his earlier decision…

US sanctions fail to forge anti-China consensus

MANILA – America’s move to punish Chinese entities and individuals reputedly responsible for militarizing the South China Sea has sparked divisions among rival regional claimants that may ultimately blunt the targeted sanctions’ impact. Last week, the US Commerce Department placed 24 state-owned Chinese enterprises under…

Where the Pandemic Is Cover for Authoritarianism

This month, two young men stood outside a high-end Hong Kong shopping mall, clutching bouquets of white flowers as they held a memorial for a protester who had died nearby last year. The event, like any marking the milestones or memories of the prodemocracy movement,…

Beauty creams stoke anti-China screams in Philippines

MANILA – A seemingly comical but perceived by many as a deeply offensive incident has sparked a new wave of anti-China sentiment in the Philippines, highlighting again rising public resentment against President Rodrigo Duterte’s Beijing-friendly policies. In recent days, the hashtag “province of China” has…

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