• Lermie Shayne Garcia City University of Hong Kong


This study examines the Japan-China rivalry and independent foreign policy (IFP) rhetoric of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Using both AntConc (concordance program) and conventional reading, this study identifies the themes and aspects as to how he used words related to China and Japan in his speeches. Data analysis reveals that his rhetoric centered on several themes, such as historical relations, brotherly and friendly relations, strategic partnership, China as an economic and military superpower, development assistance, and as point of reference, among others. Contrary to what Duterte portrays as IFP, the study shows that even after two years into his presidency, nothing has really changed in the Philippines. His promise of pursuing an IFP policy has neither taken the form of a concrete plan nor materialized as a policy. This paper argues that the ambivalence in Duterte’s foreign policy rhetoric is just a strategy to accommodate China’s influence while maintaining his nationalist narrative. His IFP rhetoric is just a manifestation of continuing dependency to outside powers. No matter how different it initially seemed to be from previous administrations in the way that it entertains other powers such as China and Japan apart from the US, it still cannot be considered as IFP.

Keywords: Independent foreign policy, Japan-China rivalry, Philippine foreign policy under Duterte, presidential speech analysis, Rodrigo Duterte

Cite as: Garcia, L.S.S. (2018). The Philippine president’s rhetoric on Japan-China rivalry and independent foreign policy. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 3(2),1-16.


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