Duterte’s Immigration Agreement with China: Subversion by Numbers

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 6, June 2018 

By Demetrius Cox

A PLA Air Force (PLAAF) military transport plane (IL-76) in Davao City on 8 June 2018. Source: Philippine Plane Spotters Group (PPSG).

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

On June 9, 2018 the Philippine Star published an article titled “More than 3 million Chinese allowed entry into Philippines since 2016 — Immigration data”.

In what may become one of the most remarkable subversions in recent history, the article describes how the immigration floodgates have been thrown open by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.  With a current national population of 103 million, Duterte has allowed a 3% direct population increase (3+ million) of Chinese immigrants to the Republic of the Philippines in less than three years, which is enough to keep most demographers up at night.  And there is no end in sight.

In Communist China’s long game, this is a very important development. The PRC is effectively colonizing a democratic neighbor and treaty ally of their chief rival, the United States, while driving a strategic wedge deep into the heart of the Western Pacific – without firing a single shot.

China’s illegal construction and militarization of five man-made island fortresses in the South China Sea has elicited outrage.  But the PRC is laughing at the world.  As  reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) IL-76 landing at Davao City on June 8 suggests, China is in the process of buying and colonizing a 7,000 island unsinkable aircraft carrier, while creating a brilliant encirclement and containment strategy to directly threaten every regional neighbor and rival.

Apparently President Duterte never made a study of Communist China’s invasion of Tibet (1950), or PRC forays into Socialist infiltration of Malaysia (Malayan Emergencies, 1948-1960; 1968-1989) and Indonesia (PKI, 1914-1966), where China attempted to directly subvert two key southeast Asian nations by mass immigration, while agitating, fomenting, and arming communist militias there.

There is no sunny future here for the Philippines’ weak democracy – and China will see to it.  Short of an Indonesian-style purge, those Chinese immigrants are in the Philippines to stay, and are being joined by thousands more each day.  In rapid succession, we are likely to see at least a political resurgence of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and other Socialist advocacy groups – including the Catholic Church – which has a history of supporting the CPP.  Even though Duterte allegedly hates the CPP with a passion, China knows he won’t be around to protest later – or even now – to provide a modicum of Counterintelligence pushback against Chinese Intelligence Services currently operating in the completely unrestrained and target-rich environment created by the president himself.  Given the unfortunate history of corruption and poverty in the Philippines, Duterte’s eagerness to court Chinese investment and tourism will likely see greed triumph over freedom and democracy.  This could be met with mass Filipino unrest, once the populace more fully understands what their crooked leaders have done to them, but even that is in doubt if China succeeds in making a few more Filipinos “rich”.

Hello, Manila, anybody home?



Demetrius Cox is a retired Naval Officer, active researcher, analyst, commentator, and consultant.  He has lived and worked in the Indo-Pacific region for over three decades, and specializes in science, energy, defense, and policy matters. JPR Status: Opinion.

China’s Strategic Pivot Towards the South Pacific Island Nation of Tonga

A Hybrid Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (IPOE) Analytical Assessment

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 12, December 2017

By Mark Anthony Taylor

The aim of this research is to critically examine the refocusing of Chinese aid, economic involvement and diplomatic attentions towards the small South Pacific island nation of Tonga.  The research seeks a deeper understanding of China’s behaviour towards Tonga and promotes a reevaluation of how the US and its allies should respond to China’s strategic calculus. China’s actions in Tonga, although appearing benign, represent a cloaked threat to Tonga’s independence, democracy and U.S. regional aspirations.  Furthermore, owing to the comparative strength of the Chinese economic and diplomatic approach, a competitive soft-power response from the US may prove inadequate. In consequence, it may be more advantageous for the US to pursue a heightened hard-power response to ameliorate any potential threat. Through undertaking an analysis of China’s fundamental motivations for the soft-power Tongan pivot and an exploration of the modus operandi employed by China to affect its strategic goals, the project will endeavour to provide a clear answer to the following research question: “Is this Chinese pivot towards Tonga merely an example of cheque-book economic diplomacy, or does it entail a cloaked malignant threat to the security and autonomy of the US and its allies?” Utilising a hybrid adaption of the Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (IPOE) analytic method[1], this project will apply a structured framework in order to probe and reconceptualise the Chinese pivot towards Tonga in an effort to unravel the underlying motivations of China. In line with this approach, the project will firstly scrutinize the situational variables resident in each nation that comprises the terrain of the issue. The significant and unique political, military, economic, social, infrastructure and informational system factors (PMESII) that contribute to the rapid intensification of China/Tongan relations will be explored. From this point, the focus will be turned towards an analysis of the usefulness of the two polar theoretical explanations (liberal and realist) for the current Chinese Course of Action (COA) in Tonga. Lastly, a detailed investigation of the two key Centres of Gravity (COG’s) that underpin and impact upon the China/Tonga relationship will ensue, exploring the cultivation of pro-China sentiment in Tonga and the degree of the US pivot to the South Pacific. The project will draw from a diverse variety of academic publications, expert opinion pieces and news media sources. The analysis reveals that the Chinese strategic pivot into the nation of Tonga superficially appeared to be motivated by benign economic opportunism. However, engagement with Tonga was found to hold a minimal benefit to China in terms of resource supply or economic gain. The major strategic benefits that were found to accrue to China were through the potential securing of Tonga for the establishment of a forward operating military base in the South Pacific. Consequently, China’s pivot may be motivated by concealed Chinese hegemonic designs (the realist perspective) rather than by benign economic opportunism (the liberal perspective). This motivation was found to pose a significant security threat to the US-lead regional order.  Two significant COG’s are bolstering the effectiveness of China’s Tongan pivot. Firstly, China has successfully executed a “hearts and minds” program to facilitate the broad interweaving of pro-China sentiment into the psyche of Tongan society. Secondly, the absence of US attention towards soft-power regional engagement with Tonga has aided China’s pivot. In terms of an effective US response to China’s strategy in Tonga, a revised US soft-power push was assessed as constituting an ineffective strategy due to the resilient China-Tonga relationship that now exists and because of China’s deep aid pockets. Consequently, the evidence points towards the need for a revitalised US hard-power military presence in the region as the most viable option for dampening China’s future militaristic ambitions towards Tonga.

One pa’anga and two pa’anga banknote.
Tonga, Pacific. Credit: Getty Images.

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