China taking advantage of PH neutrality, says expert
MANILA, Philippines — There is only one side that is taking advantage of the Philippines’ neutrality: China.
Thus was the assertion of an international security and intelligence studies professor at the Australia National University, who also claimed that “[i]n the Philippines, there is an appetite for being impartial, sitting on the fence, and not taking sides.”
Prof. John Blaxland said the Philippines should be more “hard-nosed” on its interests.
“It’s like, ‘We don’t want to do this. We don’t want to take sides.’ In the meantime, there’s only one side that’s actually taking advantage of that and that’s China,” Blaxland said in a forum.
“It’s encroaching on your sovereignty. It’s encroaching on your territory. It’s refusing to acknowledge the arbitral tribunal ruling. It is making deals to persuade you to accept this,” he added.
Murray Hiebert, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, agreed with Blaxland to some extent but he noted that the Philippines is in a “difficult spot.”
“Philippines, sitting where it sits, can’t afford to get too tough with China when it doesn’t have a Navy. It basically doesn’t have a military or coast guard that could stand up to China’s various encroachments. Plus, it needs cooperation from China economically,” Hiebert said in the same forum.
He said the Philippines has to find ways to work both with China and the United States.
“I agree that the alliance with the United States is very important. But, the Philippines has to find a way to balance this tense environment between China and the United States,” he also said.