Filipinos must forge an Indepedent Foreign Policy: Former UN Diplomat and Senator shares views on Philippine-China Relations

February 2016 / APPFI.PH

Philippine-Chinese relations, between these two neighbors who have peacefully interacted with each other in the past, are both profound and complex because they have been based on people-to-people relations.  The Philippines, representing the smaller and younger culture, has been on the receiving end of Chinese culture and migration for centuries. With its ancient empires continuing into the People’s Republic of China (PROC), and its organized systems of writing and learning, China has had a great impact on Philippine culture in a way not comparable to the impact of Philippine culture on Chinese culture (of which little is known).

Think of how Chinese food has become the staple of ordinary Filipino cooking- lugaw, pancit, siopao. Or consider the countless intermarriages between the two peoples so that those who make the list of the richest Filipinos are majority Filipino-Chinese. Moreover, most Filipinos have a sprinkling of Chinese blood in them. Common Filipino words pertaining to family relationships, business, etc. are of Chinese origin- kuya, ate, tawad.   Such Chinese influence is not unique to the Philippines; it is widespread throughout the ASEAN region.ShahaniLeticia1

Philippine foreign policy did not develop into the eyeball-to-eyeball relationship it now is between the Philippines and China until the outbreak of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue, well into the 1990s. It is true that relations with China under Chiang-Kai-Shek were severed when Mao-Tse-Tung won control over China, but China still seemed far removed from us, and ASEAN served as a buffer to a possible “domino” effect of communism.  The quarrel then was about ideology, but even with an active leftist movement in the Philippines, the fundamentals of our foreign policy – sovereignty, national territory, and the national interest – remained unaffected by the ideological rift with China. Read more...

 

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