‘Win-win solution’ in PH sea dispute with China is the way to go – retired AFP general

A “win-win solution" for everybody is seen to promote development and will not pose harm to the country’s sovereignty.

War analyst and former intelligence chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Retired General Victor Corpus, warned that China would be a friend or foe depending on what strategy the Philippines would take on the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea. Corpus said the forum titled “Is China Friend or Foe,” should look into possible directions the Philippines can pursue on the West Philippine Sea, and its implications to both Philippines’ and China’s economic strategies and relationship with each other.

Corpus presented two strategies on dealing with China: win-lose strategy, and win-win strategy. In the first strategy, Philippines win it all and China loses, which is similar to what happened in The Hague ruling that invalidates China’s nine-dash line argument. Corpus added that this strategy would lead to war. As a result, the Philippines wouldn’t get any resources from the area and would in fact, be in danger of being a warzone between the US and China. This strategy, according to Corpus, would just be a temporary tactical victory for the Philippines but a strategic defeat in the long run.

The win-win strategy, on the other hand would be to engage in dialogues with China in which both parties would win. Corpus argued this is a way to “enlarge the pie” rather than to fight smaller bits of it. Philippines, being a smaller country, can also use it to its advantage, as Corpus added that the world is watching and China wouldn’t want to be seen as a bully. 

Corpus also noted that when it comes to the issue of sovereignty, it is best for both sides to set it aside. As the Philippines’ claim is based on legality while China’s claim is based on history, the two would never be able to agree with the issue. Instead, joint exploration and exploitation is the way to go for the Philippines and would be seen as a win. Another big win for the Philippines is if it can manage to position itself as a center in the revival of the Manila-Acapulco trade and the Maritime Silk Road, with the help of China. This favors China given that its claim on the disputed islands is also driven by survival, as the artificial islands it had built are mainly for protection against any surprise attack by the US military, Corpus argued.

Other speakers of the event were Manila Times writer Rolly Reyes and TV show host and radio Producer Herman T. Laurel. Reyes pointed out that based on history, China has never been interested in invasion and is more focused on trade, which would be beneficial to the Philippines.
Laurel, on the other hand, pointed out lawfare as one of his main points. He said that lawfare, which is the use of law as a weapon of war, was what happened in the arbitration of the Philippines regarding the disputed islands. He argued that it was mainly a move of the US to incite tension between the Philippines and China. 

This forum was organized by the Association of Philippine-China Understanding (APCU) last January 29, 2019 at the Astoria Plaza, Ortigas. APCU is recognized and accredited by China as the official people-to-people organization in the country.

Photo courtesy: PCOO