Friday, December 13, 2013

Domestic Interests and Foreign Policy in China and the Philippines: Implications for the South China Sea Dispute

Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints (PSHEV), volume 62, issue no. 1, March 2014;  

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From the Editor's Introduction

In a professorial address, Aileen S. P. Baviera juxtaposes the perspectives of China and the Philippines on the territorial and maritime resource disputes in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls West Philippine Sea. Presenting the two views side by side in a sort of political dictionary, Baviera posits commensurability and engages in an act of translation that may help bridge the chasm between the two states. 

Filomeno V. Aguilar Jr.
Ateneo de Manila University 

This professorial address argues the need for a greater understanding of how domestic politics influences the foreign policies of the Philippines and China in general and their foreign policies toward each other in particular, specifically on the issue of the South China Sea territorial and maritime resource disputes. The paper juxtaposes the differing views of these disputes from the perspectives of both China and the Philippines, which result in puzzles on both sides. The aim is to improve the management of relations between the two countries.

Keywords: South China Sea disputes • nationalism • power asymmetry • perceptions • culture

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Building the ASEAN-China strategic partnership: the maritime dimension

This article is prepared for the ASEAN Newsletter (September 2013 issue) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea.

The commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the ASEAN-China strategic partnership this year will be met by greater skepticism than at its launching in 2003. Recent developments in the East Asian region point to still huge mistrust between the two sides, particularly between China and the ASEAN states that are embroiled in territorial and maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea. Of late, security tensions have been compounded by escalating geopolitical rivalry between China and the region’s other big powers -- the United States and Japan, both also vital partners of ASEAN.

That said, healthy skepticism underscores the challenges but does not belittle the importance of this relationship between East Asia’s now preeminent economic and rising military power on the one hand, and its most successful regionalist collective and key catalyst of multilateral dialogue and cooperation on the other hand. It may be argued that ASEAN-China cooperation is bound to have even greater impact in the near future, not only on their current shared bilateral interests such as free trade, economic cooperation and infrastructure connectivity, but also on matters beyond their own geographic reach. Much, however, depends on each side’s vision of its own regional role.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Philippines and the ASEAN Political-Security Community

Aileen S.P. Baviera, Asian Center, University of the Philippines
12 May 2013

Among the goals set by ASEAN for the year 2015 is to build the foundations for the ten Southeast Asian states to evolve into a cohesive political-security community. Compared with the two other "pillars" of the ASEAN community - the ASEAN economic community and the ASEAN sociocultural community - this goal may be the most difficult to attain. The Philippines has played and should continue to play an important role in bringing the vision of a truly cohesive and progressive ASEAN community into fruition. But the road ahead - especially towards an ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) - is full of potholes and obstacles, some of which may challenge the Philippines to define more precisely the interests, values and principles that it stands for.

Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

The APSC Blueprint and its Plan of Action call for member states to "ensure that countries in the region live at peace with one another and with the world in a just, democratic and harmonious environment". Moving together towards this objective entails "respect for democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms". The establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2009 was a modest but important step in this direction, and is something that both the Philippine government and non-government organizations worked hard and can proudly take some credit for.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The West Philippine Sea: Territorial and Maritime Disputes from a Filipino Perspective

View full text and illustrations here

Aileen S.P. Baviera and Jay Batongbacal
THE PRIMER is an initiative of independent researchers. The facts and analyses presented herein represent the authors’ own appreciation of published material and primary sources that were accessible to them during the course of the research. They do not represent any position of the government of the Republic of the Philippines, unless stated otherwise, nor of the publisher. The purpose of this Primer is to make available in a single updated volume a simplified and objective rendering of the historical background, current conditions, pertinent issues and policy questions regarding the territorial and maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea. It is intended to assist students, researchers, media practitioners, non-specialist members of the civil service, as well as the general public, in deepening their understanding of the many different issues of the West Philippine Sea disputes. The questions and answers are framed from a Filipino perspective that focuses on information that the authors considered to be most important and of interest to citizens of this country, rather than information that may be highlighted by various foreign authors, organizations or governments. The contents are not intended as advocacy of any particular position or policy recommendation. As proposed by some stakeholders, this updated version includes more recent developments pertaining to Ayungin Shoal, and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) arbitration process initiated by the Philippines with respect to China's 9-dash line claim.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


ISEAS Perspective #36, 2013

The Philippines in China’s Soft Power Strategy
By Aileen San Pablo-Baviera (Guest Writer)

• China has expressly recognized the value of soft power as an instrument of diplomacy. The Philippines, because of its maritime disputes with China and its close security ties with the United States, is an interesting case for studying the efficacy of Chinese soft power.
• While awareness of Chinese culture and appreciation of its consumer products
have grown in the Philippines, there are hindrances (language gap, perceptions
of shoddy product quality, competing cultural influences, etc.) remaining that prevent these from translating into useful soft power.
• Chinese and Filipinos have widely divergent political values despite shared aspirations and common problems. China’s authoritarian political model does not offer great attraction for Filipinos in light of the Philippines’ own experiences.
• China’s approaches to development can provide many positive as well as a few
negative lessons for the Philippines as the latter strives to achieve similar progress and prosperity.
• China is likely to emerge as a major investor, creditor and source of development
assistance for the Philippines, but development cooperation needs to be consistent with certain partnership norms and governance principles already in place in
the Philippines.
• Soft power is welcome, but in light of heightening territorial tensions, Filipinos
are likely to feel more reassured if China commits instead to using its hard power
less in the future.


Thursday, March 21, 2013


Upside and downside seen in Beijing's move on Scarborough Shoal Wednesday, 13 March, 2013 [UPDATED: 07:31]

Thursday, January 24, 2013


On January 22, the Philippine government initiated arbitral proceedings against China under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Art 287 and Annex VII) "to clearly establish the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines over its maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea". The act was said to be "in furtherance of friendly relations with China" and the " seek a peaceful and durable resolution of the dispute..."

I believe the move shows the sincerity of the Philippines' desire to find a peaceful and just solution to at least some aspects of the disputes so that both countries can try to move forward and focus on more constructive (e.g. economic, business, people to people) aspects of their relations. Judging by the sharp deterioration in ties of the last 2-3 years and peering into a very uncertain future, there is very little possibility for successful bilateral negotiations as China has all along preferred. For both countries, apparently irreconcilable positions, complex domestic political considerations, and trends in the geopolitical and security environment have made it difficult to demonstrate the good will needed for negotiations to succeed; third party arbitration and what we expect shall be a neutral and objective appraisal of the arguments and evidence at least offer a ray of hope. I hope China and other countries will see the Philippine move in this light.

If this move prospers, at the end of what may be a long process, the outcome may not be the solution that both parties want, but we only need an outcome both can respect. Both countries after all want peace and stability as a requisite to their continued development. The Chinese and the Filipino people have lived peacefully as neighbors for millenia, and the current leadership of both states have the responsibility to ensure it stays that way.