The Challenge of PH-China Relations

Several top international policy experts assessed the current situation in the Recto Bank fishing incident. With any other relationship with other countries, this Sino-Philippines relationship will meet challenges as it matures.

In the latest Pandesal Forum held at the Kamuning Bakery this Wednesday, June 18, 2019 several top international policy experts assessed the current situation in the Recto Bank fishing incident. With the public’s clamor for President Duterte to express outrage, former Ambassador of the Philippines to Singapore Alberto Encomienda, commends the President’s statement that the incident was merely a “maritime accident”.

In his statement before the press, the former ambassador explained that the President’s language was agreeable strategy as it will be considered volatile if the head of state comments harshly about the event. Also, Encomienda pointed out that it should be the job of the Foreign Affairs Secretary to give a sufficient comment on the hot-button issue. He also urged the country to give this softer approach to China a chance.

Having held diplomatic posts in Greece and Singapore, Encomienda advices PRRD not to give in to mere speculations and public clamor. In his view, Duterte is not a political animal if he invokes his populist ideals. For the analyst, it is better to wait for the commencement of the investigations before forming a policy. The incident serves as a “wake up call” for the public to be more discerning.

Another man from the panel, Mr. George Siy of the Integrated Developmental Studies Institute insisted the double standard that the media gives on the warming of Sino-Philippines relations and have used malicious content to twist the narrative. He explained that the South China Sea was free to navigate until the imperialist powers divided the territories to themselves. Both men agreed that the US Ambassador’s emphasis on the Mutual Defense Treaty is ominous on the country’s wariness about the rise of China, which leads them to promote militarizing the region. Fast response crisis management from both camps is a good solution, according to Siy, who has served as a negotiator for the country to various nations.

For his part, Ateneo foreign policy analyst Lucio Pitio said that the administration should tread the waters very carefully in dealing with the present situation as it can cause backlash in the present order. He advised the President not to rush in formulating policy and wait for the joint investigation. He stressed that like any other relationship with other countries, this relationship will meet challenges as it matures.

 

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