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국제관계연구소
Vol. 38-3 (December 2023) Nexus of Strong Presidentialism and Philippine Foreign Policy: The Case of the Duterte Presidency's Hedging toward China(Joseph Ching Velasco, Weiqing Song)
Abstract


During the Duterte presidency from June 2016 to June 2022, the government of the Philippines limited its affinity with the United States and pursued an ostensibly pro-China policy. This bold move took place amid the ongoing US–China rivalry. This paper carries out a retrospective examination of Duterte's China policy from the perspective of Philippine domestic politics. Specifically, we assess the international relations literature on hedging as a foreign policy strategy and argue that domestic factors play a major role in filtering systemic influences and leaving state leaders with sufficient room for strategic discretion and maneuvering. This is particularly the case with the Philippines, where strong presidentialism gives clout to the president in foreign policy development. We argue that much of the “audacious” behavior in the foreign policy of the Duterte government can simultaneously be understood as pragmatic, as it was believed to better serve the regime's short-term goals. While the alliance with the United States remained largely intact, the Duterte government emphasized its success in stabilizing Sino–Philippine relations.

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