Geopolitical thought leaders have stressed the new government’s foreign policy must prioritize strengthening ties with similarly situated countries and craft what they call a new National Security Strategy in dealing with the continuing aggression of China.
This emerged during a recent virtual forum conducted by the Makati-based think tank Stratbase ADRI Institute, an independent, international research organization focused on the in-depth analysis of economic, social, political and strategic issues influencing the Indo-Pacific region.
“The Philippines should utilize its expansive network in securing the freedom of the West Philippine Sea and in countering the aggressive behavior of Chinese maritime militia,” said Stratbase ADRI president Victor Andres Manhit in a statement.
“The inherent multi-polarity and the emergence of traditional, non-traditional and evolving security threats have led to numerous challenges and geopolitical shifts.”
Manhit added: “The people must choose a candidate with strategic thinking to appraise the complex dynamics of regional geopolitics and the respective leaders in the international arena. The next President must always be sensitive to the true will of the people.”
The maritime security issue in the West Philippine Sea remains a persistent and primary concern for the Philippines, and the next president should handle this issue decisively and firmly, Manhit said.
“China’s aggressive behavior and expansionist agenda provide impetus for a strategic reassessment of the country’s foreign and security policy,” he said.
Stratbase ADRi recently launched the book titled, “The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict,” by former US Defense Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategy and Force Development Elbridge Colby which highlights the need for the United States, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia to work together on various strategies to respond to China use of direct force to consummate an invasion.
Colby stated that, “If China really wanted to reliably be able to coerce Manila, it would want the ability to use direct military force, and the reality is that China is going to have that ability.”
“I think the Philippines should concentrate much more on the high-end military scenario rather than the South China Sea gray zone.”
“The risk is that China will increasingly be able to have military escalation dominance so that if there is a conflict arising over, say, Scarborough Shoal, the Chinese will be able to impose their will, and they will resolve any issues in their favor,” Colby said.
Concurrently, Stratbase trustee and program convenor, Dr. Renato de Castro, author of a Stratbase ADRi special paper titled, “A National Security Strategy for the 17th Philippine President: The Case for A Limited Balancing,” said the Philippines was now at a crossroads on whether to continue the appeasement policy or adopt one of “limited hard balancing.”
De Castro said that establishments were now questioning President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of appeasement toward China in the past five years.
Despite Duterte’s manifestly preferential treatment of China, it failed to deliver the promised loans and direct investments to finance the Philippine government’s Build, Build, build program, the think tank said.
Instead, it only increased its naval presence and assertiveness near the artificial islands it constructed in the South China Sea.
“Now the defense, military and foreign affairs establishments are pushing for a strategy aimed at constraining China’s revisionist agenda in the South China Sea,” de Castro said.
“Limited hard balancing seeks to constrain China’s ability to unilaterally impose its preferences on the Philippines and other littoral states through limited arms build-up and reliance on a diplomatic coalition of like-minded states that will defend their common interest to maintain a rules-based international order,” de Castro said.