Rising China: Policy Options for PH & US

 

Manila, Philippines- With its increasing economic growth and military prowess, many view China as the next superpower after the United States. China’s rise is most challenging for countries it shares immediate land and maritime borders. With the ongoing disputes on the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines must carefully consider its policy towards China.

In this regard, Asia Society Philippines, together with AIM Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness, Stephen Zuellig Graduate School of Development Management, Philippine-American Educational Foundation, Management Association of the Philippines, and Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Association of the Philippines, hosted the forum “Rising China: Specific Policy Options for the Philippines and the United States” at the AIM Institute of Management last February 4, 2015. This is the 4th installment in an ongoing series of lectures on relations between Philippines, ASEAN, China and the US.

 

The lecture featured visiting Fulbright scholar Dr. Michael Tcacik of Stephen F. Austin State University. Dr. Tkacik’s research focuses on national and international security. He has published articles on nuclear weapons, terrorism, autonomy issues, democracy and Islam, and regional issues.

Tcacik began by making a case for the importance of the geopolitics in the South China Sea, stating that it is the only area that would be “systemically transformative”. He categorized the Philippine’s policy options as either “internal balancing” or “external balancing”.

Under external balancing, the Philippines must strengthen its ties with the US, ASEAN neighbors, and Japan and India. This can include increasing opportunities for cultural and academic exchange, improving economic relations, and conducting training for military, as well as civilians.

For internal balancing, he posited effective deterrence as the best policy for defending the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea. The military capabilities of the Philippines must be enhanced and upgraded, as increased capability leads to increased credibility. “It is easier to negotiate from a position of strength”, Tcacik stressed. Though, he emphasized that it is best to proceed very cautiously to avoid a war, which would be the least desirable outcome for the region.

Members of the business community and academe, as well as members of the diplomatic community, including H.E. Truong Trieu Duong of Vietnam and H.E David Strachan of New Zealand, participated in the lively open forum.