MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines plans to raise anew its territorial dispute with China at an upcoming meeting among senior officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the United States.
This was indicated in a dialogue fact sheet furnished by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) which said participants at the meeting, scheduled for May 20 to 22, would “exchange views on regional and international developments.”
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario Tuesday told the Inquirer the dialogue was “a regular meeting aimed at enhancing the relations of both sides and charting the course of Asean-US partnership.”
Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio and Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary for East Asia and the Pacific of the US State Department, will co-chair the meeting.
The fact sheet noted that the Philippines is the “country coordinator for Asean-US dialogue relations from 2009 to 2012,” and that the US is “one of the longstanding dialogue partners of Asean, having established relations with the multilateral body in 1977.”
The meeting will “review the progress in Asean-US cooperation and exchange views on regional and international developments, including the preparations of the 4th Asean-US leaders’ meeting in November.”
It also expected to “review Asean-US relations and recommend future actions, including opportunities to enhance cooperation on regional and global issues; strengthen cooperation and coordination in specific sectors, such as trade and investment, disaster response and energy security; and identify new steps for the effective implementation of the decisions of previous Asean-US leaders’ meetings and the plan of action to implement the joint declaration on enhanced Asean-US partnership,” the fact sheet said.
The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the Philippines, being the “US errand boy in Asean,” would be expected to take up these issues in line with US interests.
“The Philippine government may take up its dispute with China, but this would be framed within American interests, like an increased US military presence in Southeast Asia. While the US may downplay its role in the dispute with China, it obviously seeks a greater presence in the region, using the dispute as another pretext even via a multilateral body like Asean. This poses complications and may even escalate tensions,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.