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”

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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”

Philippine Security Relations with the United States and Japan Under Duterte: Bending, not Breaking 

by Lucio Blanco Pitlo III/ October 10, 2017/ Originally posted at AMTI

With improved Sino-Philippine relations post-arbitration, an opening with Russia, and seemingly positive momentum on ASEAN-China Code of Conduct negotiations, one could envision a shadow looming over the Philippines’ longstanding defense cooperation with the United States and recently burgeoning cooperation with Japan. But the reality is more nuanced. With threats to sever or downgrade security relations with the United States alongside a courting of non-traditional security partners China and Russia, how will the Philippines’ security relations with established partners proceed under President Rodrigo Duterte? Continue reading “Philippine Security Relations with the United States and Japan Under Duterte: Bending, not Breaking “

Why China’s 19th National Party Congress matters to the Philippines

by Aaron Jed Rabena / October 12, 2017/ Originally Posted at BusinessWorld

ON Oct. 18, the largest ruling political party in the world – the Communist Party of China – will hold its quinquennial National Party Congress in Beijing. Unlike US presidential elections and American politics, not much is heard in the country about the most important political activity in the world’s second richest economy. The Philippines cannot be faulted for this as the country shares stronger political affinity with the United States and has long been exposed to American soft power such as Hollywood, CNN, and Harvard. Continue reading “Why China’s 19th National Party Congress matters to the Philippines”

Duterte’s ASEAN Policy

by Aaron Jed Rabena / 13 Sept 2017 / Originally Posted at IPP Review

The 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers’ summit hosted by Cambodia in 2012 was said to be the critical turning point for Southeast Asia’s disagreement on the South China Sea (SCS) as for the first time since its inception in the 1960s, ASEAN member-states were not able to come up with a Joint Communiqué at the end of a Summit. Since then, and due to continued strategic posturing by the relevant parties in the SCS, the divisive issue has become a major concern at every ASEAN-led regional dialogue mechanism where political and security matters may be discussed. Continue reading “Duterte’s ASEAN Policy”