When the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte needs a “psychiatric evaluation”, many in the yellow press in The Philippines tended to agree with a ridiculously offensive statement that is not befitting of any major global institution, not least the United Nations.
Now though, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson for what will soon be the strongest economy in the world, China, has sprung to Duterte’s defence. Lu Kang stated,
“Anyone without bias can see that President Duterte has made positive efforts since assuming office to combat drug-related crimes as well as terrorism, develop the national economy, and improve people’s livelihood, which have effectively protected and promoted the Philippine people’s fundamental rights to security and development”.
Lu further called on the UN to “respect the sovereignty of the Philippines and the will of its people, view the outcomes of the Philippines’ fight against drugs and terrorism in a comprehensive, unbiased and objective way, and support its efforts to move forward its human rights cause in light of its national conditions”. Lu further stated, “As an agency of the UN, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is expected to fulfil its duties within the framework set out by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter”.
This statement not only demonstrates China’s commitment to dignity in diplomatic circles, but it shows China’s respect for President Duterte and his peace-minded, reformist attitude to geopolitics and trade, while also demonstrating that unlike many in the US Congress, CIA, EU and UN, China respects Duterte’s sovereign right to govern on behalf of his people.
This is highly significant as it is reminiscent of China’s robust defence of Pakistan when Donald Trump insultingly accused the country of harbouring terrorists, in spite of the fact that Pakistan has been one of the world’s largest victims of the terrorist over-spill caused by the failed US policies in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Pakistan is of course one of China’s neighbours and currently, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor represents one of the key routes along the One Belt–One Road inter-connectivity initiative. By defending President Duterte, China has shown that it is willing to say about The Philippines what it traditionally only says about historically close partners like Pakistan. This demonstrates that while only in office since 2016, President Duterte has dramatically improved Sino-Philippine relations, something which is essential as China remains the most important economy not only in Asia but in the world.
Duterte’s 21st century model of non-alignment has already paid off as it has gained The Philippines an important superpower partner that is willing to publicly denounce insulting and provocative statements made against the Philippine President and by extrapolation, the Philippine nation. China’s statement also serves as a warning to those who would seek to work to illegally destabilise his legitimate leadership.
At a time when Duterte has clearly expressed his dissatisfaction with the “colonial mentality” of historic partners including the United States, any objective assessment should lead to the realisation that in China, The Philippines has a respectful partner that is willing to tell the world to cease meddling in Duterte’s domestic agenda and treat him with the respect befitting of a head of state.
The healthy Sino-Philippine relations that Duterte has established represent the future, while again Duterte’s opponents, both at home and abroad represent an outdated view of the world which is both colonial in its mindset and economically foolish in its practical application.