APEC chance to mend Sino-Philippine ties

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-12 0:18:01

When meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said the country will extend warm hospitality to his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, who is set to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of leaders in Manila next week. The Philippine foreign ministry said the South China Sea issue will not be brought up during the APEC meet. 

China has always held that the South China Sea not be included in APEC discussions and Wang must have reiterated the stance.

Sino-Philippine relations have been at a low ebb due to South China Sea disputes. Tensions were fueled after Manila submitted the dispute to an international arbitration tribunal that does not have jurisdiction. But there are no signs of a head-on conflict between the two sides.

Cooperation is apparently the theme between China and neighboring countries, but disagreements also happen and are fomented sometimes due to a special external force - the US. Yet Beijing and Manila need to be capable of managing the degree and scale of frictions to prevent them from spiraling out of control.

Despite its robust moves in the South China Sea, Manila has to understand that it has gained nothing beneficial. US verbal support and gestures like naval patrols do not produce real effects. The lawsuit is unlikely to constrain China. This stunt only helps the US against China.

Most countries neighboring China choose to be neutral between China and the US, but the Philippines is an exception. However sharpened the problems between Beijing and Manila are, it will not be a promising choice for Manila, bolstered by external forces, to confront Beijing while the latter proposes to seek a solution through negotiation.

How far the US intends to go in contending with China in the South China Sea depends on its strategic consideration rather than the Philippines' willingness. Manila will soon find that it is being used by Washington as a pawn against Beijing, not the other way around. The upcoming APEC meeting is an opportunity for Manila to straighten out its problems with Beijing. Their territorial disputes can only be solved between the two sides and any external party with a partial stance will worsen the situation.

The rise of China can naturally make some countries uncomfortable. If the Philippines considers itself one of the few nations that can rival China radically, it needs some self-reflection. China also has to ponder and take action to prevent the Philippines from stepping into that minority group.


Posted in: Editorial

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