Military observer Zhou Chenming said the Philippines was neither brave nor powerful enough to split from the U.S. Therefore, he said, Duterte's proposal to buy arms from China was mere posturing to please Beijing, which was infuriated by the Hague ruling on the South China Sea, rather than a realistic plan.
"Also, compatibility problems hinder Chinese arms sale to the Philippines, as the latter is accustomed to US-style weaponry, which is totally different from Chinese designs and production," Zhou said.
Ties between the Philippines and China have been strained since the Philippines applied for a ruling on the South China Sea from the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Filipino fishermen have also complained of harassment by Chinese government vessels near the Scarborough Shoal.
Oh, from Singapore, said the oral proposal to buy Chinese weapons could not be seen as a symbol that disputes in the South China Sea were over, as "even if the Philippines does not insist upon the ruling, other Southeast Asian countries would still do so. Similarly, the South China Sea situation is calmer at the moment, but will likely flare up as soon as any claimant acts rashly."
Wu said the ruling could not be easily ignored by the Philippines because the US and Japan would not allow it to do so, as both viewed it as an excuse to contain Chinese assertiveness in the important waterway.
Duterte is famous for his outspokenness.
He referred to US President Barack Obama as a "son of a whore" last week and, less than a month earlier, he addressed the Chinese presence in the disputed waters. "I guarantee to them (China), if you enter here, it will be bloody," he said. "And we will not give it to them easily. It will be the bones of our soldiers, you can include mine."
Oh said: "We can hardly discern the seriousness or real effect of what Duterte blurts out in colorful language on an almost daily basis, only to be typically diluted or explained away by other Philippine officials a short while later. Their flippantly contradictory nature frankly does not inspire confidence in their logical implementation. "
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