CHINA’S aggressive posturing in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) could undermine the global economy as the sea lane serves a significant portion of international trade, but President Benigno Aquino 3rd said he has appealed to Beijing to share the benefits of prosperity in an atmosphere of stability.
In an interview with the international media in Berlin on September 19 (Saturday in Manila) Aquino highlighted the importance of the world community coming together to call for the peaceful resolution of the sea disputes among various claimant countries so that not a single power would have sole control over the vital shipping lane.
“There is an estimate that says 40 percent of global trade has to cross this particular ocean, which is in the South China Sea, and if it gets to a situation where there is one state that determines who can and cannot pass through, and when and when not to, and puts in all of the various rules and regulations, then it will undermine the global economy that is just now recovering,” Aquino explained.
The press briefing was held after he delivered a speech at the AXICA Gehty lounge event organized by the Koerber Stiftung and Asia Pacific Association in Berlin, Germany.
“Now, also, we agree that all of the relationships should not be one way. We have disputes with China and others, we tell them: prosperity cannot exist in a vacuum and the imbalance will merit instability also so we have to be focused on how to make it all-inclusive not just within our communities but elsewhere,” he added.
But Aquino clarified that the sea row is “not the sum total of our relations” with China, a point first clarified in 2011 by then President Hu Jintao.
China invested about $600 million in the Philippines in 2011, while the Philippines put some $2.4 billion in China, Aquino noted.
“The Philippines now has a population of 100 million, they have a 1.3 billion population. So they sent 200,000 tourists to us and we sent 800,000 tourists to them. So my appeal to them was, ‘all of us are supposed to strive for our people’s prosperity and prosperity cannot happen in a situation of instability,” Aquino said.
In a separate forum in Paris the day before the forum in Germany, Aquino stopped short of naming China as the bully that was “bent on establishing new realities at sea and in the air.”
He told the forum organized by the French Institute for International Relations in Paris on September 18, that the tensions in the South China Sea brought about by the “emerging pattern of aggression” by claimant countries pose a threat not only on regional security but, on a larger scale, the global community.
“The Philippines has consistently expressed its concern on rising tensions in our part of the world, due to maritime and territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As has been reported by international news agencies the world over, there is an emerging pattern of aggression bent on establishing new realities at sea and in the air,” Aquino said.
Such “aggression” endangers not only those who lay claim over some territories in the area but other countries outside the Asian region as well, he said.
“Violations of international law” should, therefore, be immediately stopped, he said.
“These violations of international law pose a danger not only to claimant countries, but also to the entire international community, since freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce are threatened,” Aquino added.