The Philippines should balance its relations with both the United States (US) and China, a former ambassador told Sillimanians in lecture on diplomacy last Sep. 15 at Audio-Visual Theatre-1.
Jose Apolinario L. Lozada Jr., Silliman alumnus and former Philippine ambassador, said having both China and US as partners may be more protective of the country’s national interest in all aspects of its responsibilities.
This is in line with the ongoing South China Sea (SCS) or West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute between the Philippines and China, which the US is currently involved in.
Lozada stressed that the Philippines should share the concerns of the US in promoting maritime security in the SCS/WPS region while at the same time resolving the current dispute with China.
“We need to reassure the US that we are on the same page in ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight, but that we will not overdo the anti-Chinese sentiments which even the US would not normally make,” Lozada said.
As for the country’s relations with China, Lozada said the Philippines should stop completely in its war of words with the “superpower” in the public and international arena.
“The Philippines has not gained a centimeter of territory in that word war. If anything, we actually lost a territory as China essentially took over access to Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc),” he added.
Lozada described the Duterte administration’s efforts in talking to China as “heartwarming.” Former leader Fidel Ramos’s mission to Hong Kong last year, he said, has “contributed a great step forward in strengthening that bilateral relation with China.”
He further noted that the Philippines should also improve its economic and trading relations with the Chinese.
In line with this, he believes that the Duterte administration may need to explore the possibility of working with China in coming up with an acceptable arrangement to the sovereignty issue over the islands.
Other than the relations of the Philippines between China and the US, Lozada also discussed about Philippine Foreign Policy and its three pillars- promoting national security; enhancing economic diplomacy; and protecting the rights and welfare of the Filipinos overseas.