Joint Development in the West Philippine Sea: an Idea Whose Time Has Come

By Lucio Blanco Pitlo III/ March 19, 2018 / Originally posted at PACNET

A proposed joint development (JD) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) between the Philippines and China has revived debates on how best to move forward in the longstanding regional flashpoint. There should be no debate – the Philippines should enter into the JD, even if the partner is a state-owned entity, as long as it can deliver. Most importantly, JD does not necessarily impact adversely the 2016 arbitral ruling and the Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights position on the WPS. The Philippine service contract (SC) system may offer a solution for both countries and can accommodate a JD. This approach to JD can enhance the country’s energy security, create jobs, promote technology and knowledge transfer, and contribute in dispute management. Continue reading “Joint Development in the West Philippine Sea: an Idea Whose Time Has Come”

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New Players, Ideas, and Arrangements: The Quest to Counter-balance China

by Philip Vincent Alegre/ March 16, 2018/ Originally Posted at APPFI

In November of last year, the world witnessed the US put forward new rhetoric in its foreign policy toward Asia. US President Donald Trump, towards the end of his 12-day five nation Asia tour, departed from usual US language and started referring to an “Indo-Pacific” region instead of “Asia Pacific”, a move which did not go unnoticed by analysts and observers in the region. Continue reading “New Players, Ideas, and Arrangements: The Quest to Counter-balance China”

Primacy and Balance: Trump’s China Strategy

by Lucio Blanco Pitlo III / March 16, 2018 / Originally Posted at China-US Focus

In September 2016, Zack Cooper and Jake Douglas from U.S. think-tank CSIS categorized four U.S. perspectives in dealing with China, based on an assessment of Chinese intentions and power trajectory. They presented them at a conference on the “South China Sea (SCS) in the Broader Maritime Security of the Indo-Pacific,” held in Canberra. I had the great privilege of taking part in the conference, presenting a co-authored paper on the Philippine perspective on the SCS disputes. Though it had been in circulation much earlier, the then less-used geographic term “Indo-Pacific” later received greater currency more than a year afterwards, as President Trump laid out his vision for a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Continue reading “Primacy and Balance: Trump’s China Strategy”

China and a New Type of Global Leadership

by Lucio Blanco Pitlo III /  Originally Posted at China-US Focus / February 8, 2018

“Never forget why you started, and you can accomplish your mission,” President Xi Jinping said during his report to the 19th Communist Party (CPC) Congress last October. This resonates well at a time when China and its external environment are faced with tremendous transition challenges and uncertainties. The success of China’s reform and opening up lends affirmation to its unique syncretic politico-economic model of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Xi confidently repeated that sticking to this line, with a few fundamental tweaks, is in China’s best interest. Strong political will, continuity and efficiency brought about by one-party rule ensure speedy and sustained implementation of long term plans and reforms, although not without detrimental effects to the growth of genuine pluralism and democracy. Continue reading “China and a New Type of Global Leadership”

Duterte’s push for joint exploration in the South China Sea

by Aaron Jed Rabena / The Strategist / January 31, 2018

From being a frontrunner in pressing China on the South China Sea disputes, the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking closer relations with China. In his state of the nation address in July last year, Duterte announced that he wants to begin a joint exploration venture with China in the South China Sea, in the area that Philippine government agencies refer to as the ‘West Philippine Sea’. The Chinese hailed the initiative as ‘full of political wisdom’. Continue reading “Duterte’s push for joint exploration in the South China Sea”

Duterte’s Evolving South China Sea Policy

by Aileen Baviera / Maritime Issues / January 25, 2018

Presidential prerogative 
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has been criticized by some quarters as flip flopping with his foreign policy, particularly on how to manage the territorial and maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea.[1] This is causing confusion even among his domestic public, his country’s traditional allies, ASEAN neighbors, and – one can safely presume – China. Continue reading “Duterte’s Evolving South China Sea Policy”

DPRK and Terrorism: Key Regional Security Challenges

by Lucio B. Pitlo III/ January 9, 2018 / Originally Posted at China-US Focus

Concern over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and missile tests and combating terrorism and extremism constitute two of the key security issues discussed in the recently concluded 31st ASEAN and Related Summits held last November in Manila. Confidence building, diplomatic engagement between key claimants and sustained negotiations for a regional Code of Conduct have soothed tensions in the South China Sea, while recent developments have brought the DPRK’s nuclear and missile tests and terrorism to the forefront. Leaders from Southeast Asia and the major powers, the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, and India, met amidst an intensifying war of words between the U.S. and the DPRK and amidst the retreat of international terrorism, with militants in Iraq (Mosul), Syria (Raqqa) and the Philippines (Marawi) being routed. Continue reading “DPRK and Terrorism: Key Regional Security Challenges”

Will the real China please stand up? A Southeast Asian perspective on China’s growing power and influence

by Aileen S.P. Baviera / (This article originally appeared in Japanese translation in Gaiko (Diplomacy), Vol 46, Nov./Dec. 2017, pp. 43-49) / English version from APPFI

The first five years of Xi Jinping’s rule saw major changes in Chinese policy that have affected its relations with Southeast Asia. With a slowing economy in need of difficult restructuring, a global financial crisis threatening China’s markets and sources of investments, the Communist Party facing issues of legitimacy amidst rampant corruption, and serious environmental problems threatening growth and people’s welfare, Xi set out on a direction that was rather unexpected. He began to assert strong central authority domestically; waged a sustained anti-corruption campaign (that also masked a purge of political rivals); took steps to raise China’s economic, political and military profile abroad; and began to contest some rules of the international order which China had been dissatisfied with. Xi abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s exhortation – obeyed by his predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao – that China keep to strategic patience, remain low-key, and “bide its time and hide its capacities” (taoguang yanghui韬光养晦 ). Continue reading “Will the real China please stand up? A Southeast Asian perspective on China’s growing power and influence”