Remarks at a Forum on the South China Sea
Organized by the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation and
Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
17 October 2011, Manila Polo Club
On this occasion, I wish to focus my remarks not on the legal and technical dimensions of the Philippine claims on the South China Sea, about which there has been much discussion already and for which there are far more capable legal scholars and experts. I will instead focus on what I understand to be Philippine interests in the South China Sea, drawing from my background in the study of politics and international relations; and exploring specifically how the territorial disputes and the maritime jurisdiction questions relate with broader issues such as the future of Chinese power, Sino-American rivalry for influence over East Asia, and the value and efficacy of an ASEAN-centered regional approach to the problems.
I wish to briefly address three points, based on my continuous observation and research on the subject:
1. What are the Philippines’ “core interests” in the South China Sea?
2. What has historically been the Philippine approach to the territorial and maritime jurisdiction disputes?
3. What are the elements of the emerging Philippine policy toward the South China Sea under the Aquino government, and how do they reflect Philippine interests in the evolving regional context?