Duterte’s shift toward China threatens ASEAN centrality, forces other claimants to take stand

by Florence Principe / 13 September 2017 / Originally Posted at APPFI

The feeble stance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the South China Sea in the past has been made even weaker by the sudden shift of Philippine foreign policy under the Duterte administration. As the chairman for this year’s summit, the Philippines could have used this opportunity to rally the Southeast Asian states to support and uphold the arbitration rulingthat it won in July 2016, affirming the rights of littoral states under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Instead, President Duterte decided not to talk to China about the ruling for now – while he resets diplomatic ties and secures economic aid from China. Continue reading “Duterte’s shift toward China threatens ASEAN centrality, forces other claimants to take stand”


China’s Complex Diplomacy and Its Challenges for the Philippines

Q & A with Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana, former journalist, lecturer, and ambassador-designate to the People’s Republic of China


The root cause of the problems between the Philippines and China has to do with the territorial and maritime disputes between the two countries. There are several dimensions to these disputes: the first is the issue of territorial sovereignty and the competing claims between the two countries over Scarborough Shoal and some maritime features in the Spratlys. Continue reading “China’s Complex Diplomacy and Its Challenges for the Philippines”

When Regional Cooperation is in the National Interest

by Florence Principe / December 23, 2016 / Originally Posted at APPFI

On August 8, 1967, the five founding members (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the ASEAN Declaration in Bangkok, Thailand that established the organization. ASEAN was driven by the desire of the states  to cooperate in economic, social, cultural, technical, educational and other fields, and to promote regional peace and stability. The ASEAN is grounded on the principles of mutual respect, non-interference, non-coercion, renunication of the use of threat or force, peaceful settlement of disputes and cooperation as declared under the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. In later years, ASEAN was joined by five more countries namely, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.1 Continue reading “When Regional Cooperation is in the National Interest”

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen Says She Won’t Bow to Beijing

Ralph Jennings | TIME.com / October 10, 2016

(TAIPEI, Taiwan) — Taiwan’s new President Tsai Ing-wen said Monday that her self-ruled island will not bow to Beijing’s pressure and that China should recognize her government’s existence and engage with it in talks, in remarks likely to further anger China. Continue reading “Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen Says She Won’t Bow to Beijing”

Commentary: Philippines spat plays into China’s hands

By Peter Apps | Reuters | September 7, 2016

(Note: paragraph 4 contains language that may offend some readers)

If you’re a historic U.S. ally under mounting pressure from an emerging superpower like China, it’s probably not a good idea to use a crude sexual epithet to describe the American president. Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte, though, is far from a normal president. And his behavior – and that of his government – is increasingly posing a serious challenge to Washington on an ever-growing variety of levels.

Continue reading “Commentary: Philippines spat plays into China’s hands”

Amid the significant media buzz and scrutiny over the arbitral tribunal’s July ruling before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) regarding disputed maritime rights in the South China Sea, which sided with the Philippines on most counts and resulted in a major legal and diplomatic defeat for China, an important but less conspicuous ruling within the PCA award document on Chinese coast guard behavior was largely overlooked by the press. The ruling, entitled “Operation of Law Enforcement Vessels in a Dangerous Manner,” sought to assess whether or not China, by the actions of its maritime law enforcement (MLE) vessels, had breached its obligations under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) by operating “in a dangerous manner causing serious risk of collision to Philippine vessels navigating in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal,” otherwise known as the Philippines’ Submission No. 13. Continue reading “The Crucial South China Sea Ruling No One Is Talking About”

Are you going to Scarborough Shoal?

As Arbitral Tribunal recognizes the talakitok, tanguinge & bonito 

By Dr. Alfredo C. Robles Jr / raissarobles.com/ July 16, 2016

The Arbitral Tribunal’s decisions on the nine-dash line and the entitlements of various features in the South China Sea will probably sound abstruse, abstract and far-removed to many Filipinos. Continue reading “Are you going to Scarborough Shoal?”

Hague ruling may lead to US, China power play

Reported by Nikko Dizon / Inquirer.Net / July 12, 106

The decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague which will be released Tuesday is akin to the “beginning of an end,” a Filipino security expert said. “The case will end today but this will only be the start of an intensified power play between China and the US, the two opposing titans, eventually dwarfing the Philippines. And this will happen whoever wins in the case,” Chester Cabalza, a security expert and professor at the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), told the INQUIRER on Monday afternoon. Continue reading “Hague ruling may lead to US, China power play”