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Reduce duty on Harley Davidson to nil: Report

By | General Posts

The report by the US India Business Council (USIBC) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said the 0% rate could apply to all motorcycle imports being sold in India over Rs 5 lakh.

NEW DELHI: India should consider bringing down the import duty on high-end motorcycles (that include Harley Davidson motorcycles) to 0% for both complete built up (CBU) units and for completely knocked down (CKD) units, a joint report by two industry lobby groups suggested on Tuesday as part of an overall strategy to boost India-US trade to $500 billion.

The report by the US India Business Council (USIBC) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said the 0% rate could apply to all motorcycle imports being sold in India over Rs 5 lakh.

The report has listed out interventions in 13 specific areas, which if resolved, will provide a thrust to trade between the two countries. Interventions range from reinstating Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) benefits by US for India, arriving at a consensus on a pricing mechanism for medical devices, modifications in India’s e-commerce policy, removing high tariffs on steel and aluminium imports by US, fostering greater cooperation in strengthening partnership in defence and aerospace.

“In 2017-18, Harley Davidson sold 3,413 units in India – a decline of 7% from the previous year. For CBU units, India had already slashed duties from 75% to 50% in 2018, but given that the duties apply to a minuscule percentage of the overall trade and for a very niche product, eliminating it altogether would provide a symbolic win for the US,” the report said.

It said issue of price controls for medical devices has invited vigorous discussions and was one of the original reasons why US Office of the Trade Representative (USTR) decided to review India’s eligibility for GSP programme

The report said India’s e-commerce policy, however, has engendered a whole host of issues that impact both domestic and foreign players, including definition of private versus community data, prohibition on cross-border data sharing, mandate to establish data centres holding sensitive data of Indians within the boundaries of India, informed consent, following due legal process in data sharing with Indian or foreign authorities, domestic versus Indian – product definitions; requirement for e-commerce app/websites to set up legal entities in India.

“India must also bear in mind that such a policy could prompt reciprocal action by US and other countries which may demand that the data for their citizens stay within the confines of their geographical boundaries. This could have an enormous deleterious impact on Indian IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) companies that have grown over the past several decades essentially by processing, analysing and storing sensitive health, financial, insurance etc. information for customers from other countries within India – the US is a major market for such firms and helps generate thousands of jobs in India.”

Harley has to pay huge duty in India, Trump revives import duty debate

“India is probably the highest tariff nation in the world. The United States has to be treated fairly and I think India understands it. We have a large deficit of $24 billion with India and that it is very high”. Trump Said

NEW DELHI: U.S President Donald Trump calls out India-US tariff a problem mentioning the American motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson has to pay high import tariff in India.

While addressing a media conference in Delhi, he said, “India is probably the highest tariff nation in the world. The United States has to be treated fairly and I think India understands it. We have a large deficit of $24 billion with India and that it is very high”.

However, he indicated that a trade deal with India could happen at the end of the year. “Working it out with India on tariffs,” President Trump said.

India reduced the customs duty on complete built-up units (CBUs) from 100 percent to 50 percent in 2019. Even then Trump criticized the import duty and called out “too high” and “not acceptable”.

On the other hand, India increased tariffs on completely knocked down (CKDs) units from 10 per cent to 15 percent. Harley Davidson’s majority of sales come from the CKDs which are assembled in India.

In FY2019, Harley Davidson sold 2676 motorcycles. It sells 17 Models in India which ranges from ₹5.33 lakh to ₹50.3 lakh.

Before Trump India Visit, India proposed a new tariff classification for motorcycles with a cylinder capacity exceeding 1,600 ccs, imports of which will be taxed in single digits.

Kawasaki Announces New Agreement with Roadrunner Financial to Offer Financing for Credit Builders and First-Time Buyers

By | General Posts

Foothill Ranch, Calif. – Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. is pleased to announce a new financing agreement with Roadrunner Financial to offer competitive near-prime loans to Credit Builders with 550-660+ FICO scores. Roadrunner delivers a revolutionary lender experience through digital applications with instant decisions, comprehensive credit coverage, and unbeatable dealer and customer support.

Kawasaki joins a group of Powersports and Outdoor Power Equipment partners that utilize Roadrunner Financial to bring great finance offers to their customers. The relationship with Kawasaki allows Roadrunner to offer an enhanced program with improved near-prime rates with no fees for dealers.

“Roadrunner Financial is a key addition for Kawasaki and our dealers” said Kawasaki Senior Vice President, Sales and Operations Bill Jenkins. “The focus on a near-prime credit program will offer dealers new opportunities for financing customers on Kawasaki powersports products.”

“Roadrunner will give Kawasaki dealers a new tool to close deals that would usually walk out the door.” When asked about the new financing agreement, Jon Vestal, VP of Sales at Roadrunner Financial said, “We’re very excited to strengthen our relationship with Kawasaki. By targeting near-prime, we plan to deliver significant incremental sales for Kawasaki in 2020 and beyond.”

This new Kawasaki program from Roadrunner Financial will be available to Kawasaki dealers starting March 1st, 2020.

About Roadrunner Financial:
Roadrunner Financial offers financing for customers across the entire credit spectrum. Roadrunner’s credit program suite includes ‘Roadrunner Prime’, ‘Roadrunner Credit Builder’ for customers down to 550 FICO, a first-time buyer program, ‘Roadrunner Lease’, and a pre-owned vehicle program.

Founded in 2016 and based in New York, Roadrunner helps dealers finance more customers by taking the traditional hassles of lending and replacing them with one seamless process that can take as little as a few minutes. Roadrunner’s unique financing experience offers instant decisions, electronic contracting, and financing for more than 10,000 vehicles across 40+ Powersports & Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) OEMs. For more information, please visit www.roadrunnerfinancial.com.

ABOUT KAWASAKI
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI) started full-scale production of motorcycles over a half century ago. The first Kawasaki motorcycle engine was designed based on technical know-how garnered from the development and production of aircraft engines, and Kawasaki’s entry into the motorcycle industry was driven by the company’s constant effort to develop new technologies. Numerous new Kawasaki models introduced over the years have helped shape the market, and in the process have created enduring legends based on their unique engineering, power, design and riding pleasure. In the future, Kawasaki’s commitment to maintaining and furthering these strengths will surely give birth to new legends.
Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) markets and distributes Kawasaki motorcycles, ATVs, side x sides, and Jet Ski® watercraft through a network of almost 1,100 independent retailers, with close to an additional 7,400 retailers specializing in general purpose engines. KMC and its affiliates employ nearly 3,100 people in the United States, with approximately 250 of them located at KMC’s Foothill Ranch, California headquarters.
Kawasaki’s tagline, “Let the good times roll.®”, is recognized worldwide. The Kawasaki brand is synonymous with powerful, stylish and category-leading vehicles. Information about Kawasaki’s complete line of powersports products and Kawasaki affiliates can be found on the Internet at www.kawasaki.com.

Deadwood’s Lost Chinatown

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The history of Deadwood’s Chinese, and the tragic loss of an important landmark.

Editor’s Note: Bikernet got a hold of an historic home in Deadwood in the Presidential area. We decided on a Chinese whorehouse theme. We discovered this 110 year-old home was built over the original cemetery where Wild Bill was buried. Someone got the bright idea to dig up the bodies and move them up above Lincoln Street. Here’s some of the Chinese history in Deadwood.

READ THIS INSPIRING ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE

E-bikes to rule the US EV market in next decade

By | General Posts

In the last couple of years, e-bike sales have been growing steadily in the US, but they still represent a small part of the overall segment in the country.

Electric vehicle market in the US in the next decade will be dominated by e-bikes, claims a media report. It forecasts a total of 113 million e-bikes will be sold in the country between 2020-2023.

Sales of the electric bikes in the US have grown more than eight-fold since 2014, claims the report further.

In the last couple of years, sales of e-bikes have been growing steadily in the US, but they still represent a small part of the overall bike segment in the country. As the report claims, e-bike sales jumped by an incredible 91 per cent from 2016 to 2017. Also, it grew 72 per cent from 2017 to 2018 to reach $143.4 million, as revealed by market research firm NPD Group.

Between 2006 and 2012, e-bikes represented less than 1 per cent of total annual bike sales. In 2013, US customers bought 1.85 lakh e-bikes, while across all of Europe, 1.8 million units were retailed.

The media report quotes Jeff Loucks, executive director of Deloitte’s Technology, Media, and Telecommunications centre, who said that e-bike sales will not increase evenly across the US. He forecasts cities, in particular, will see the biggest adoption rates.

As he said, “We’re seeing more people move into the urban core of cities throughout the United States. And it’s just going to put a huge load on the roadways and on public transportation systems if some of that isn’t taking place by bike.”

from https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/

Harley Davidson bikers enjoy Jaber Causeway morning ride

By | General Posts

by Ben Garcia from https://news.kuwaittimes.net

As part of US Embassy’s ‘Discover America’ activities

KUWAIT: US Charge d’Affairs and Deputy Chief of Mission Larry L Memmott flagged off on Friday a Harley Davidson motorcycle ride on one of the longest bridges in the world – Sheikh Jaber Causeway. It was part of the activities of 11-day Discover America 2019 event being held in Kuwait.

“I am happy to be here to inaugurate this event. It’s a 10-day demonstration of our culture, tradition, musical, food, restaurants, business, cars, education and today, motorbikes,” said Memmott. “Harley Davidson is a proudly American brand; in fact, it’s very iconic. It’s part of our cultural heritage and we are very proud of their achievements. If we talk about Harley Davidson, it’s about tradition and history, because they are in existence for the last 116 years and counting and will be there perhaps forever,” he said.

Riders from various nationalities participated in the event, which started from the Harley Davidson showroom in the Free Trade Zone in Shuwaikh down to Subiya via Jaber Causeway and back. “We are happy to host this major as event part of Discover America. We have participants from all over Kuwait; they hail from various nationalities and backgrounds. I think we have more than 100 bikers. They are here to support us,” Memmott said.

Prior to the motorcycle ride, bikers gathered at the Harley Davidson showroom for breakfast and a briefing. Harley Davidson is also offering a 25 percent discount on all its merchandise displayed at the showroom. “Please visit and be there in the remaining days of event as we want to demonstrate mostly American brands; participating outlets normally give major discounts to everyone. Just like Sultan Center – they have more than 4,000 products on display and they are all from America. Most of the items will be offered at a discounted price. Also, we have seminars and business opportunities for everyone – we have movies and concerts too,” Memmott added.

Discover America is an annual event organized by the US Embassy in partnership with the American Business Council of Kuwait to promote US products and services. This year’s event is being sponsored by Ali Al-Mutawa Commercial Company, McDonalds, Cadillac by Alghanim, Del Monte, Francorp and IFA Travel and Tourism.

Harley struggles to fire up new generation of riders with electric bike debut

By | General Posts

by Rajesh Kumar Singh from https://www.reuters.com/

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG.N) is betting on electric motorcycles to attract the next generation of younger and more environmentally conscious riders to reverse declining U.S. sales.

But as Harley ships its first “LiveWire” bikes – priced at $29,799 – to dealers, there is little evidence the 116-year-old brand is catching on with new young customers.

The problem lies mostly with this “super-premium” product’s price. The bike costs nearly as much as a Tesla Model 3, and aims for a market that does not really exist: young, “green” and affluent first-time motorcyclists.

The sleek sport bike has been available for preorder in the United States since January. However, the bulk of the orders are coming in from existing and old riders, according to interviews with 40 of the 150 dealerships nationwide that are carrying the bike this year.

The dealers Reuters spoke with account for little over a quarter of LiveWire dealerships and are spread across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, California, Nevada, New Jersey and New York.

Harley has for years failed to increase sales in the United States, its top market accounting for more than half of its motorcycles sold. As its tattooed, baby-boomer base ages, the Milwaukee-based company is finding it challenging to woo new customers.

In 2018, Harley posted the steepest sales decline in four years in the United States. U.S. sales are tipped to fall again this year.

Harley Davidson’s U.S. Retail Sales

Grappling with an ageing customer base and the waning charm for its big bikes, Harley has failed to post sales growth in the United States – its biggest market – in the past four years.

The heavyweight motorcycle maker’s stock price has declined by 42% in the past five years. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index .SPX has gained 47%.

Price Barrier
When Chief Executive Officer Matt Levatich announced LiveWire’s launch last year, his hope was the ease of riding motorcycles with no gears or clutch would help attract young and environmentally conscious urban riders.

In an interview with Reuters in February 2018, Levatich said the bike would help address Harley’s demographic problem.

“It is more about the next century than the last century,” he said at the time.

The preorders, thus far, have belied those hopes, according to the dealers.

“It is appealing to a demographic that is already riding,” said Gennaro Sepe, a sales manager at a Harley dealership in Chicago. His store has received four preorders for the bike. All of them are from existing riders.

Harley declined to comment on LiveWire preorders.

The motorcycle maker is not the only company investing in battery-powered transportation.

Tougher emissions rules in Europe, China and the United States are forcing auto companies to switch to electrified models. A survey of U.S. millennial motorcyclists, published in February by the Motorcycle Industry Council, found 69% of the riders interested in electric motorcycles.

Harley’s dealers said they are getting inquiries from young customers, but are struggling to translate them into sales. A key reason: LiveWire’s retail price.

“Interest is very high,” said a sales manager at a New Jersey-based dealership, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media. “But once you get to pricing, interest is thrown out of the window.”

Over half of young college graduates in America, whom Harley is courting with battery-powered bikes, are saddled with student loans that entail average repayment of $200 to $300 per month.

Harley is not offering any discount or incentives to push the sales, either, the dealers said.

In an interview with CNBC television in May, Levatich called LiveWire “one of the best engineered products on the market” and said it was worth its price.

Gary Jon Prough, general sales manager at a dealership in Countryside, Illinois, said the vast majority of millennials cannot afford the bike as LiveWire is targeted at young and affluent customers with incomes above $100,000 a year.

Tesla’s Way

To drive up sales, Prough and other dealers expect Harley to go Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) way: launch more affordable battery-powered vehicles after creating a buzz with the premium model.

Tesla’s first electric car cost over $100,000, but prices came down with subsequent models. Its Model 3 now comes with a base price of $35,000 and was instrumental in lifting its vehicle deliveries to a record level in the latest quarter.

Traditional Harley Davidson entry-level bikes cost about $6,900.

The motorcycle maker has plans to bring out four more electrified models in the mid-power, low-power, e-bicycles and kids’ two-wheeler segments by 2022.

But unlike Tesla, Harley does not enjoy the true first mover’s advantage.

California-based Zero Motorcycles is already selling electric bikes in the United States with retail prices ranging from $8,500 to $21,000. Its top-end bike – SR/F – is similar to LiveWire, but costs nearly $9,000 less.

Still, Bob Clark, a dealer for Zero’s bikes in Chicago, says he has not yet sold one SR/F to riders under the age of 35. All three electric bikes he sold to young riders this year were in the $10,000 price range.

“Young riders are environmentally conscious, but are also very price-sensitive,” Clark said.

It is not just pricing. LiveWire’s limited range is also hampering its sales.

The bike can travel 146 miles (235 km) in the city or 95 miles in combined city and highway riding per charge. An ordinary household outlet can provide an overnight charge, while Level 3 direct current fast chargers stationed at Harley dealers will fully charge the bike in 60 minutes.

This renders LiveWire less effective for longer-distance rides, limiting its appeal among rural riders who prefer touring bikes.

Seven Harley dealerships told Reuters they have not even bothered ordering the bike, which would require investing in a Level 3 charging station and training staff.

An Ohio-based dealer, who had initially signed up for LiveWire, said he pulled out at the last minute as he was not sure of the bike’s demand in his area.

Delayed Arrival

A delay in LiveWire’s arrival in stores has left the dealers in the Midwest and the East Coast with hardly a month to aggressively push the bike before the snow season sets in. Winter generally means a lull for motorcycle sales.

When dealers began taking preorders, the delivery was expected in August, but was later shifted to September. On Sept. 30, the dealers Reuters spoke with were still waiting for the first bike.

In a Twitter post on Oct. 2, Harley said the bikes are starting to arrive at authorized dealers. The tweet also carried a picture of the first LiveWire that was “rolled off the line” at its York, Pennsylvania, facility in late September.

With the demand rather limited, the dealers said, Harley has decided to keep the supplies tight in order to protect the bike’s brand value and prevent any price-discounting pressure. The dealers said they are all expecting to receive less than 10 LiveWires this year.

James Hardiman, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, reckons Harley would sell between 400 and 1,600 LiveWires in the first year. That is not even 1% of the 228,051 bikes it sold worldwide last year.

“This is going to be largely a rounding error certainly this year and even next,” Hardiman said.

Colony Machine H-D Hardware, since 1969

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Owner of Colony Machine, Mark Borcoman, by their newest CNC turning center.

Lowbrow Customs is the only place, world-wide, that you can find every single Colony Machine product (over 3,500!). Founded in 1969, Colony produces top-quality, made in the USA hardware for Harley-Davidsons 1911 to current. Their new 2019 catalog just came out and contains hundreds of new parts.

Click here to download the Colony Machine catalog as a PDF file. Perfect for quick reference or for printing out just the pages you need.

You can also shop Colony products at Lowbrow Customs.

A U.S. Ally Is Turning to China to ‘Build, Build, Build’

By | General Posts

The Philippines is converting a historic American military base into a city. Its key funder? China.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte checks the scope of a rifle at a ceremony marking the turnover of free Chinese military assistance to the Philippines at Clark Air Base in June 2017.Romeo Ranoco / Reuters

CLARK, Philippines—Vince Dizon makes sure his guests take in the view from his ninth-story office before they leave. A set of windows looks out over a hazy, expansive airfield that was the center of the United States’ largest overseas military base, until it was handed back to the Philippines in 1991.

The concrete skeleton of a new commercial-airline terminal can now be seen in the distance. Dizon, who leads the Philippine government agency charged with redeveloping old military sites, is fond of telling visitors that the Americans built a runway of such quality that the U.S. Space Shuttle could have landed on it.

Three decades on, the area is still dotted with vestiges of Clark Air Base, where Americans first established a presence during the Spanish American War while searching for grazing land for their horses. A manicured veterans cemetery is managed by the U.S. government; a building that was once a base hospital sits abandoned outside the gates of a new water park; an American Legion post is wedged between two “entertainment bars”—the infamous red-light district, which flourished thanks to demand from U.S. troops, didn’t leave when they did.

Now, though, the Chinese, not the Americans, are the ones fueling investments here. Officials from Dizon’s agency, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, and China’s Gezhouba Group, an engineering and construction company that has moved aggressively into foreign markets in recent years, are finalizing the details of a $2 billion, 500-hectare industrial park, Dizon told me, while Chinese loans will fund a railway linking Clark to the coastal city of Subic, the site of a former U.S. naval base. Separately, Chinese firms are also angling to take over a failing shipyard in Subic.

The projects are part of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s aptly, if not creatively, named “Build Build Build” economic strategy, under which the government plans to transform the Clark base into a green, disaster-resilient, stand-alone city that developers hope will relieve pressure on Manila, the perpetually gridlocked capital some 60 miles south.

Chinese investment in what will be known as New Clark City “is critical,” Dizon said in an interview. “It is how it all started.” He sees the investments as symbols of a “newfound friendship and relationship” between Manila and Beijing. It is one of several similar projects launched across the Philippines, and across Southeast Asia, as China and Chinese companies plow money into projects, largely as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s much-touted Belt and Road Initiative. The globe-spanning infrastructure and investment program has been criticized by Washington, but has nevertheless won admirers: Last month, Italy became the first major European economy to join.

This redevelopment of a former symbol of American might here in Clark by a Chinese developer may be the best example of the shift under way in Southeast Asia, as a more assertive Beijing courts traditional American allies in a part of the world where Washington’s power long went unchallenged. “It is so important,” Dizon, who worked on Duterte’s presidential campaign in communications and was appointed to his current job by the president, said. “I think it will be one of the major legacies of this shift in foreign policy under President Duterte.”

Though Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines say they still need an American military presence in their backyard and fear a rising China—Duterte himself has told Beijing to “lay off” an island claimed by the Philippines in the South China Sea—a debate is raging on what that relationship with Washington should now look like. Analysts that I spoke with noted worries in the region that President Donald Trump’s White House appeared uninterested in Southeast Asia compared with its predecessors. At the same time, staunch American allies, including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, have looked to China as the rare country that is hungry to sink billions into infrastructure projects and fund development.

To be sure, China’s efforts in Southeast Asia have not been without difficulties. Beijing has inserted itself as a power broker in Myanmar’s (also called Burma) long-running civil wars and Rohingya crisis, and has stirred public resentment as it pushes to restart a highly controversial, and currently suspended, hydropower dam project. Though Malaysia has recently revived two major Chinese-backed projects, it had initially turned away Belt and Road investments whose price tags became too high to bear. And even as the Philippines invites Chinese investment, it has almost no security relationship with Beijing. (By contrast, Manila maintains exceptionally close ties with Washington, its former colonizer, which is still widely trusted and respected here.)

Read: China is quietly reshaping the world

Yet the shift in ties between the Philippines, as well as much of the rest of Southeast Asia, and the U.S. is clear. Vacancies for ambassadorships in the region have piled up and include Singapore and Thailand. Trump in March nominated an ambassador to ASEAN, the regional bloc, after a more than two year vacancy, and Patrick Murphy, the nominee for ambassador to Cambodia, continues to face confirmation delays. David Stilwell, nominated last year to be assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, also has yet to be confirmed.

Barack Obama—who lived for part of his childhood in Indonesia—took a particular interest in Southeast Asia, and while his administration’s “pivot to Asia,” meant to be a centerpiece of his foreign-policy legacy, was never fully realized, even those limited efforts have not been replicated. A 2016 summit convened by Obama with Southeast Asian leaders, the first of its kind, has not been held again. After attending part of the 2017 ASEAN Summit, Trump skipped two Southeast Asia–focused meetings last year.

The Trump administration has defended its handling of Southeast Asia. In particular, the White House has sent a large number of officials to visit the region. Murphy, who currently serves as the principal deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, met with Southeast Asian officials in March to “reaffirm our embrace of ASEAN centrality.” An increased number of military operations in the South China Sea have also been a central, and highly visible, part of the administration’s efforts to push back on China’s combativeness in the contested waters. And Washington, which will publish an Indo-Pacific strategy report this year, has announced new funds for technological and infrastructure initiatives across Southeast Asia, though the amounts on offer are a fraction of what China is spending.

These moves are not gaining much traction. A February survey of 1,008 Southeast Asian experts, business leaders, and policy makers by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, a think tank in Singapore, found that 68 percent believed that U.S. engagement with the region has either decreased or decreased substantially. A similar proportion were unsure of, or had little confidence in, Washington’s reliability as a strategic partner and provider of regional security. Separate surveys last year from the Pew Research Center and Gallup found Trump’s image remains poor internationally, while countries continue to recognize the rising power of China.

Read: China’s plan to buy influence and undermine democracy

“How can you reportedly be spending so much time in Asia and yet not [be] reassuring anybody by doing it?” Greg Poling, director of the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me. “There is a sentiment in Southeast Asia that U.S. officials come in and want to lecture about the things that matter to us and don’t have nearly enough patience for the things that matter to Asian partners.”

Nina Hachigian, who served as the U.S. ambassador to ASEAN during the Obama administration, said she doesn’t see “the strategic vision for Asia as a whole and what the U.S. role and interests are.” Hachigian, who now works in the Los Angeles mayor’s office, added that China could exploit that to tell regional allies “that we can’t be trusted, that we are not really Asian anyway, that we are unreliable, that we will leave, that we are only in it for our own interests.”

China’s infrastructure-building is perhaps something that the U.S. does not want to, or cannot, compete with—Manila’s finance secretary, Carlos Dominguez III, for example, publicly lamented last year that American investors “have no interest” in the country’s redevelopment plans. But the U.S.’s once rock-solid defense ties may also be under pressure.

Recent focus in Manila has been on the Mutual Defense Treaty, which was signed in 1951, five years after the Philippines gained independence from Washington. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in March reassured the Philippines that the U.S. would come to the country’s defense if it were attacked in the South China Sea—a significant statement that aimed to address long-standing consternation here over the lack of a firm American position on the issue. But just a week later, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that it was not the lack of reassurances that worried him, but rather that the Philippines would be drawn into “a war that we do not seek and do not want,” noting that increased U.S. naval operations meant the Philippines “is more likely to be involved in a shooting war.”

While stressing that the two countries remain steadfast allies, Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to Manila, admitted to me in an interview that “it may not be the simplest time to be working on the U.S.-Philippines relationship for various reasons.” He pointed to “political rhetoric” from the infamously brash Duterte as one of the factors that complicated the relationship. The U.S., Kim said, was looking at whether “any adjustments could be made to update and improve” the 1951 treaty, issues that might be “identified together” with counterparts from the Philippines. (Changes to the text of the treaty, though, would require ratification from lawmakers in both countries.)

Dizon’s concerns are more immediate: He is hoping to drum up more Chinese support for New Clark City. Local media reported that two deals were signed between China and the Philippines at a Belt and Road event in Beijing in April. As I said goodbye to Dizon after our interview, a team from Chinese state television was waiting outside his office, getting ready to film a story on the enormous construction project. The Clark development would, he told me as he walked to join them, “spur the long-term relationship between China and the Philippines.”