[OPINION] Beyond the Manchurian candidate

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In today’s popular parlance, a Manchurian candidate popularly refers to someone who is “China’s puppet,” one that the Chinese government (hereafter, China) propped up to win top government positions to forward Chinese interest. In the 2022 Philippine elections, this so-called Manchurian candidate is supposed to  be Bongbong Marcos. This criticism was also widely applied to current President Rodrigo Duterte while he was running for office.

I argue that this concept of a Manchurian candidate is unsupported by any form of acceptable empirical research and ultimately distorts the understanding of a more evidence-based understanding of China and international politics.

I point out three reasons. 

First, there is simply no accepted data to support that China has aggressively funded candidates across the world. China certainly prefers some politicians over others due to their stated positions but so do other great powers. Most…

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