The Inbox

Veteran diplomat Lauro Baja on the “New China”

Xi Jinping2

The  changing of the guards in China is ongoing  at the  18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China  which started yesterday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will turn over  leadership to Vice President Xi Jinping.

One of the Philippines' seasoned diplomats, Lauro Baja, formerly the country's permanent representative to the United Nations talked to some members of media and shared his thoughts on how the Philippines should deal with the "new China."

Baja, who also served as Foreign Affairs undersecretary for policy, thinks despite the change in leadership, China "will not be able to veer away too much from what is existing now. "

But, he said, "there is now a new dynamic in China, the news is now more vocal, the social media is more vocal and there is a greater degree of nationalism among people in the streets. As a matter of fact they now think and they may be rightly so that they are now the center of the world. "

That reality, he said, must be taken into account by  the Philippine policy makers in dealing with China now.

Given the overlapping territorial claims on China and the Philippines, Baja said "we must find ways to either resume dialogue or initiate dialogue on other approaches"  because military action is not an option. " In our dispute or claim, we have no military option and I don't think parties are thinking of the military option."

Lauro BajaBaja laments the "fixation on developing a code of conduct in the South China Sea as an upgrade of the Declaration of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea."

"We are making the same objections as we did in the declaration and it is unrealistic to expect that a code could be concluded in the immediate future," he said.

He pointed out that China has not budged from its view that  there should not be an enforcement provision in case of violation and a dispute mechanism.

Baja is not optimistic that the 10-member Association of Southeast Nations,which will have a summit meeting in Cambodia on Nov. 18- 20, would be able to  conclude an ASEAN Regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea  and allow parties concerned including China to either accede or adhere to the declaration.

"Maybe that would be a creative approach. After all ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation  has been acceded to by China so maybe there's an example for a new innovative creative approach. But in the UNCLOS  (United Nations Commission on the Law of the Sea) itself there are opportunities also for cooperative activities," Baja said.

Despite the recriminations over the Panatag (Scarborough) shoal early this year, Baja believes the Chinese does not really consider  the Philippines  an enemy nor do we  consider China one.

He said,"the only element which put a 'fly on the ointment' is the so-called in the PH-China relations is the perceived excessive dependence of the Philippines on the US and that's a sore point to them."

He related a conversation with recent Chinese visitor Fu Ying, vice minister in China's foreign ministry who was formerly ambassador to the Philippines.

" I told Fu Ying, because I know her I was undersecretary of foreign affairs then when she was ambassador here so we could talk frankly. I told her, the trouble with China is you talk to us thru the US why don't you talk to us directly and we talk to you directly. And she said to me, 'but you also talk to us thru the US.'

" So again, that perception must be excised. We cannot deny that we are close to the US we are treaty allies, people-to-people exchanges are substantive but we cannot also deny that geography is immutable, we have a big neighbor to the north who is the second largest economy in the world and with a growing military and a growing international clout in international affairs so the challenge for  Philippine  diplomacy is to have a nuance approach to the competition, to the rivalry to the so-called boxing match as Pres. Ramos said between China and the US because whether we like it or not the security architecture of the region will be determined to a very large significant factor by the US-China relations."


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF
    OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF

    The Philippine government is asking the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to finally complete the tripartite review process of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The review – snagged  for several years as government had its hands full with the peace process with rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – tackles how the 1996 peace pact with the MNLF has been implemented and centers on the three remaining …

  • Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe
    Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe

    Eight of the resource persons ordered arrested by the Senate finally attended the 21st public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee into the alleged anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay, but the proceedings turned out to be a review of matters previously presented. For over three hours, the subcommittee heard presentations regarding the alleged hidden assets of Binay and the issue regarding the supposed P200 million in kickbacks he received from a deal between the Boy …

  • DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe
    DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its investigation into the “massacre” of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A joint team of prosecutors and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigators is about to finish the second part,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has told congressmen. She was responding to questions raised by former senior police officer and now Rep. Samuel Pagdilao of party-list …

  • APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism
    APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism

    BALANGA CITY, Bataan – More than 2,000 delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and international media outfits are expected to enjoy the splendid coastline of Bagac town, which faces the West Philippine Sea, as they converge for a workshop in this province next month. …

  • DOST opens P54-M research facility
    DOST opens P54-M research facility

    A P54-million research and development facility of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was recently opened in Bicutan, Taguig for scientists and researchers to develop technology and techniques to allow Filipino fashion and clothing designers and manufacturers to produce more mainstream products from local, tropical fabrics like piña, banana and abaca. Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT) is the DOST’s flagship effort at reviving …

  • DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights
    DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights

    Philippine embassy officials in Doha have raised their concern with Qatari authorities over coercion and human rights violations in the alleged forcing of three Filipino workers convicted of spying to provide information and confess to the crime. Speaking to reporters, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose yesterday said the embassy has raised the matter during several high-level meetings with Qatari officials and the national human rights committee in Qatar. “Our embassy …

  • US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl
    US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

  • ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’
    ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’

    Conflict in the South China Sea can affect economic growth and stability in Southeast Asia, New Zealand warned yesterday, amid China’s aggressive reclamation activities in disputed waters. New Zealand is marking its 40 th year of diplomatic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and hopes to intensify trade and other linkages with the 10-member grouping. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims with China over the Spratly …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options