China-Philippines boat collision may benefit Duterte

Monday, July 1, 2019

Subject

China-Philippines relations.

Significance

On June 9, a Chinese trawler collided with a small Philippine fishing vessel in disputed waters in the South China Sea in what Philippine officials described as a “hit and run” incident. Even if the collision was accidental, the behaviour of the Chinese boat in leaving the scene has caused an outcry in the Philippines.

Impacts

  • The incident is likely to work against Manila’s policy of seeking joint development of offshore energy resources with China.
  • President Rodrigo Duterte’s China-friendly policy will remain unchanged in the short term.
  • A joint Philippines-China investigation into the incident would find it to have been accidental (whatever the facts may be).
  • China will attempt to tighten control over its South China Sea maritime militia, and fishing fleet more broadly.
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