Convene several experts, rethink our China policy


THE President and his men should pause and evaluate their present policy on China and disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea. If the objectives are to assert our ownership claim and to make China back off, then we have clearly failed. Instead of pulling back, China has ramped up its encroachment, even reclaiming waters around reefs and shoals near our mainland. Policy experts and security strategists should ask hard questions. Are we making progress toward attaining our objectives? Does our litigious strategy have any chance given Beijing’s refusal to recognize anything but bilateral negotiations? Do our actions steer the stakeholders in this region to a path toward an arms race and greater instability around vital sea lanes?

If the objective is to raise global awareness of China’s actions, then President Aquino’s team has done that. But that is not a viable aim. Note that even US President Barack Obama has criticized China’s bullying. So, what now? Would it help the Philippines to have more international pressure on China? We doubt it. Now the Philippines is poised again to urge Asean to come out against the Chinese. First, we doubt that China will be moved by public declarations alone. Second, Asean will not unite against China. Not that our regional neighbors are afraid, but other Asean member states will not likely allow our territorial disputes to overshadow their broader political and economic interests in China.

In fact, we believe that the Philippine government should not allow the territorial disputes to define our relations with China. The President should convene the best and brightest, if only to assess what have we gained (and lost) and to map out a new policy and strategic direction from hereon. Palace officials have rejected suggestions to convene the National Security Council. Granted, the NSC may be the wrong group to consult because our military options are limited. We hope that the President will consult with many other experts. He should do so soon, because his actions have not only failed to bring the disputed territories closer to Philippine control, but they have also driven further away a strategic partner.

Like it or not, we have to live with China, the rising global military and economic power. Relations between our peoples predate the colonial period, and even in modern times, Chinese blood runs through the veins of most Filipinos – including the President’s. Indeed, it is ironic that the President’s mother was celebrated for re-kindling family ties with Chinese kin on the mainland  and now her son has managed to alienate China to a point where international mediation is being sought.

To be fair to the present BS Aquino administration, Filipinos must realize that the problem of how to deal with China started even before the President was born. And between 1946 and today, the Chinese have been creeping ever closer to the Philippine mainland, albeit at a much faster pace since he took office in 2010. Before his term ends, though, we hope that the President rethinks his approach to China.

We do not pretend to know the answers, but the experts might. What we do know is that the status quo is unacceptable. We know that waiting for the world to rescue us is unrealistic.

And we know that continuing to do the same things until 2016 and expecting different results is, to put it mildly, crazy.


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  1. The hostile rhetorics and actions adopted by PNoy provoked China to be more aggressive. Showing clearly that PNoy’s approach is a big mistake as well as a big failure. Never has China & Philippines relations been at its lowest than now. The best way to deal with China is through mutual respect and mutual understanding. Intimidation & disrespectful actions would never frighten China, on the contrary, such behaviors would only make matters worse. And considering that China is now a great military as well as economic power, Philippines would surely be the loser once situations deteriorate into military conflict. Expecting US to help would also be foolish, unrealistic and disappointing.

  2. Tanggapin na natin na wala tayong magagawa sa china,dahil mismong US ay hindi makikipag-away sa china!
    Malayo pa ang mararating natin bago tayo makapantay sa armas ng china,o baka hindi na!
    Diplomasya ang kailangan,hindi puro yabang at hangin ang pairalin,dahil mag-iiyak man tayo at magsisigaw,wala tayong magagawa!
    Kahit anong bangis ng hayop,kapag marunong kang maglambing, ito ay aamo din at kaya munang utu-utuin! Makukuha mo pa ang gusto mo!
    Mahirap yung puro yabang,dapat utak ang gamitin!

  3. Foreign relations are like jazz – endless variations on a theme – , but on the regional stage Pnoy Aquino is the “Stranger on the Shore”, and will end up just playing with his ukelele.

  4. “The mind is like a parachute – it works best when it is open”
    Frank Zappa

    Pnoy Aquino and his skydivers are currently in free-fall, with no back up chute.

    Strategic insights and contingency planning has never featured in their ‘closed shop’ approach to everything.

    Most other governments use a series of specialised think tanks to analyse and advise in key areas. Maybe Pnoy Aquino and the other students think they know better than the professor.

  5. It is clear the Philippines does not have a working relationship with China. We cannot buy them and we cannot bully them. None of our common actions work. We need to rethink our foreign policies with China and all of others.

  6. waiting for 2016 or a new president for us to act is rather foolish, if i may say so. we should have talked with china yesterday. we should not rely on the kano’s so called defense umbrella and the so called asian pivot. the kano will only move when its people are threatened or harmed or its interests are affected. the only thing that the kano can do is just like what we are doing right now – protest and protest but falling on deaf ears.

  7. I know my position will not be popular to fellow filipinos but given the present economic dictatorship that we’ve hadd since 1986 wherein only the very few rules the business and economic environment of this forsaken country, let us say China is not interested in these submerge coral reefs, aside from fishing, what will this country do with it, Chinese and other poachers has been doing their things in these places since time immemorial. Maybe SM, Robinson et. al will consider putting up malls? Who will benefit or perhaps some moneyed cronies will build resort islands? I think it will be better for us to share a home with a brother or even half-brother than stay in this home practically owned and operated by an absentee landlord who will easily leave us behind when troubles come. Remember Cambodia in 1975.

  8. I am no expert I am just another Filipino concerned about the welfare of his country. I have said it before and I am glad it is confirmed in this editorial that China is a rising military and economic global power and it would be best for us to stop driving them away while the rest of our Asean neighbors are establishing closer ties with China. We will be the laughing stock in Asean holding on to the apron strings of america while the rest reap the benefits of trade and stability with China. Unfortunately we cannot expect this dolt pnoy to change tact nor can we expect his moronic and sycophantic cabal to try to persuade him to rethink his position. If there is one thing sure about pnoy he will remain stubborn with whatever position he has already announced no matter how idiotic it might be. My hope is China will still be open to a better relations with us after the end of this term under another leader who will have to know better than follow through this amateurish and idiotic path to perdition.