Explore All Diplomatic Avenues To
Defuse West PH Sea Tension, Marcos Urges
Concerned over rising tension at the West Philippine Sea, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. urged Malacanang to intensify efforts at exploring all diplomatic avenues to find a peaceful means in resolving our conflicting territorial claims with China in the area.
Last week Chinese Navy sent a stern warning against a US spy plane monitoring aggressive Chinese reclamation activities in the area, asking it to leave their airspace. But the US said it would continue to defy China as their flight operations were done in international airspace.
Malacanang also took a tough stance, saying the Philippines will defy China’s claim over airspace in West Philippine Sea. The Philippine government is likewise seeking greater US support in connection with the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute.
Marcos suggested that Malacanang summon the Chinese ambassador to relay to Beijing our desire for a diplomatic solution to defuse the tension in the West Philippine Sea amid our concern aggressive activities from any party could spark confrontation in the area.
He said the President should tell the Chinese envoy that we don’t want any fight with China but we are standing firm on our territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea.
“It’s important for the Philippines and China to talk, that’s the first step,” Marcos said.
Apart from the possibility of engaging China in bilateral talks, Marcos said the Philippines should also explore back channel diplomacy.
“Diplomacy is not exclusively a government to government endeavor. There are a lot of Filipino businessmen with businesses in China and they have friends and connections there. Let’s utilize that, ask them to talk to their friends on how we can resolve this matter peacefully,” Marcos said.
The thrust of such back channelling, Marcos said, is to persuade China to stop its massive reclamation and aggressive stance in the disputed territories to give way for a dialogue to resolve the conflict.
“Even if we don’t manage to arrive at an agreement immediately, if we are talking there’s a chance to be able to reason with China to stop doing what it’s doing and continue talking. If we manage to do that, there is hope for a peaceful resolution,” Marcos said.
Earlier, Marcos also said efforts should be done to strengthen RP-China relationship in the areas of culture, arts, trade, tourism, linkages between educational institutions, health and social protection issues, agricultural cooperation, and mutual assistance when natural disasters occur.
Intensified diplomatic initiative on the part of the Philippines has become imperative now that the situation has become more complicated with Washington’s equally strong posture to assert freedom of navigation rights in the region the senator said.
The Philippines will be in the losing end if caught in the crossfire in case of a confrontation between the US and China, said Marcos.
“The end game of all our diplomatic efforts is to secure an agreement with China over the disputed territories in West Philippine Sea, that is what we should do,” he added. /MP