Experts: PH-China ties based on ‘submission and fear’
On July 12 last year, the Philippines became the little nation that could after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague handed it victory over China in a maritime dispute in the South China Sea.
But a year later, the Philippines’ relations with China appear to be based on “submission and fear,” according to Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.
“The Philippines seems to be completely betting all on China’s good graces. This may not be a relationship based on respect between equals, but rather one based on submission and fear… fear of a greater power,” Batongbacal said.
Security analyst Chester Cabalza, also a professor at UP, said that in taming the dragon, the Philippines must still put its national interest above all.
Cabalza described the Philippines’ triumph in The Hague as “the victory of the small maritime states against naval powers.”
“The reversal of policy may have given us leverage to accentuate our interest to tame the dragon but we must always put premium to our own national interest that by recognizing our legal victory is the victory of the Filipino people. This should always remain the foundation of our aspirations in our foreign and defense policies,” Cabalza said.
Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (Amti), a US think tank, described the 12 months after the arbitral court ruling as a “wasted year.”
Beijing’s “ultimate goals” remain, Poling told the Inquirer in an e-mail.
Amti recently released satellite images that showed near completion of China’s military installations on Philippine-claimed reefs in the South China Sea.
“In exchange for diplomatic niceties and pledged [but not yet realized] investment, China has gotten the Philippines to set aside the arbitral award without needing to modify its claims or slow its construction of military facilities at all,” Poling said.
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