The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) calls on the people of Asia and the world to unite and intensify their resistance against inter-imperialist collusion and rivalries through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and other imperialist instrumentalities which subject the toiling people to worsening forms of oppression and exploitation.
The upcoming APEC summit in Vietnam on November 8-10 and the successive ASEAN and East Asia Summit to be held in the Philippines on November 12-13 and 14 will serve as occasion for the imperialist powers to project their military and political power in the Asia-Pacific region and wring further liberalization policies from the Philippines and other backward economies. US imperialist chieftain Donald Trump is set to visit the Philippines, as well as Japan, China, South Korea and Vietnam.
There is collusion among the the leading global capitalist powers such as the US, Japan, China and Russia, in so far as pushing for all-out liberalization is concerned. The imperialist powers are united in the push to break down trade and investment barriers in order to allow unrestricted plunder of mineral and agricultural resources and cheap labor in the semicolonial and semifeudal countries.
Under the America First policy, the Trump regime seeks to further break down economic barriers to favor US monopoly capitalists. The Trump government has turned its back on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and similar multilateral agreements in favor of bilateral arrangements with individual countries. Trump aims to push around its economic weight (buttressed by its military presence) to force countries to break down trade and investment barriers to favor US monopoly capitalist companies.
On the other side of the multipolar world, China is pushing for “economic integration” of ASEAN and APEC countries under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Like the US, China aims to push for all-out liberalization under its “one belt, one road” project to tighten the integration of these countries into its Factory Asia “global value chain” to take advantage of cheapest available labor. To facilitate rapid transportation of capital goods and consumption commodities, China aims to construct a network of rails and ports. This infrastructure binge, in turn, will help absorb its surplus steel.
There is rivalry and intense contradictions between the leading capitalist powers especially amid the protracted crisis of the global capitalist system. While the US imperialists remain the biggest military power, China continues to strengthen its armed capability and is fast developing its capability to project power overseas. Russia remains the biggest nuclear rival of the US.
The ASEAN is one of the flashpoints of rising inter-imperialist rivalry, mainly over control of the South China Sea trade route which has resulted in US and China saber-rattling.
The US imperialists under Trump are drumbeating threats to launch a war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in order to justify efforts to build-up its military presence and strengthen its foothold in South Korea and around the South China Sea. The US is using the Duterte regime as an additional noise-maker to foment a war against the DPRK to which North Korea has responded to by fast building its capacity to launch an inter-continental ballisic missile (ICBM) to deliver nuclear payloads as a deterrent against a US attack against it.
Instead of pushing for the demilitarization of the South China Sea and, thus, reduce the possibility of the Philippines being pulled into a vortex of war, the Duterte regime is further stoking the tensions by turning a blind eye on China’s occupation of Philippine claims in exchange for promises of Chinese loans and capital infusion, on the one hand; and, on the other, allowing the US military to continue using Philippine territorial seas for its power projection operations and Philippine ports for docking, refuelling and provisioning of US warships.
The US military has also set its sights on strengthening its military presence in the Malacca Straits, the narrow international sea passageway from the Indian Ocean through Malaysia’s waters to Southeast Asia. The “ISIS threat” and “high seas piracy” in the Malaccas now being played up by the Duterte regime is being used by the US to justify its growing presence and joint exercises with the militaries of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore as well as with Australia as a counterpoint to China’s own efforts to increase its presence in that part of the region. Duterte and the US military are now singing the same tune with regard “drugs and terrorism” in order to justify the Plan Colombia-type US intervention in the Philippines.
US imperialist chief Trump’s visit to the Philippines in line with the ASEAN Summit will further cement the master-puppet relationship with the Duterte regime. He will surely be pleased by the Duterte regime’s vigorous push for further economic liberalization, particularly with its rush to further open the economy to full foreign control by trimming down the “negative list” of areas of the economy reserved to Filipinos. Under the guise of “federalism,” Duterte is also rushing charter change in order to remove restrictions against foreign ownership of local enterprises, something which the US imperialists have long sought.
Trump also aims to secure US military presence in the Philippines through US military bases and facilities under the EDCA, rotating forces of the US military, regular dockings of US naval warships, joint military exercises and so on. The Trump visit will highlight the US role in Marawi, specifically, its role in leading the arrest operations against Isnilon Hapilon (whose capture or death was offered a $5 million reward by the US State Department), and in the conduct of electronic surveillance, aerial bombings and drone strikes.
The imperialist chief’s visit will altogether trump Duterte’s claims of upholding an independent foreign policy and prove it to be an empty brag. Duterte has largely proved himself to be subordinate to US policy dictates, especially with regard US counter-insurgency doctrine and US “war on terror.” To obscure his subservience to US imperialism, Duterte claims of being a target of a CIA assassination plot, when in fact he is a closet puppet of the US government. Duterte is no Fidel Castro.
As the imperialists and their subalterns congregate in their high-flying summits, the CPP calls on the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces to mount protests in the cities and launch tactical offensives in the countryside to underscore their demand for national and social liberation.
The Filipino people must confront the Duterte regime’s subservience to US imperialism, particularly, its counterinsurgency doctrine and “war on terror” which serve as pretext for US military presence, intervention and control of the AFP. They should also denounce the regime’s push for all-out economic liberalization in order to comply with US and China dictates and attract foreign investments.