Talk and talk until we die

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

As tensions continue to rise in the South China Sea, I had the chance to watch an enlightening interview sent to me by my good friend Professor Rommel Banlaoi, president of Philippine Society for International Security Studies in a show called Dialogue on CGTN. Prof. Rommel and I have had many interesting discussions on the issue of de-escalation together with other like-minded friends in the past and quite frankly, even most recently, where we learned the tagline “talk and talk until we die.”

Indulge me for a moment in calling this a tagline as it was very often uttered in the past which, to date, is still on high recall – if you get what I mean. No pun intended but there is truth and wisdom found in this saying and we hope it falls not on deaf ears. I particularly find it rather difficult to speak on the issues of sovereignty or sovereign rights (note that these are two separate issues) not because I am not fully abreast on such topics but rather because I am more inclined to focusing on other areas that highlight both peace and development.

Such a highlight was not only something that former president Rodrigo Roa Duterte concentrated on but, to be quite frank about it, the rest of the world (most of them at least) seem to be doing just that.

While the United States appears to be sending every indication of intervention in our neck of the woods, they, on the other hand, are meeting President Xi in Beijing on bilateral relations and highlighting what they are calling a “brighter future.”

Meanwhile, and back to our neck of the woods, we all continue to witness tensions that, as Professor Banlaoi expounded, keep going and flaring up, risking the unintended violent encounter at sea. In this interview, it was expressed that more involvement from outside players are taking place, with not only the United States in the picture but also Japan and Australia and, while all this is taking place, China is having its own military drills within the month of April.

Previously, and as explained by Professor Banlaoi, the intention that most people seemed to look forward to in this administration was the elevated relations between two neighboring countries that share a deep historical heritage, including the implementation of a comprehensive strategic cooperation plan. However, somewhere along the way, the President changed his approach towards China due to what Banlaoi further explained as the intervention of the United States.

It seems, and just like the good professor said, the United States has a lot of explaining to do. When asked about military conflict, Professor Banlaoi explained that in the event this happens, whether it be because of Taiwan or the South China Sea or even the Korean Peninsula, he believes that if the United States would be involved in the military conflict in this part of the region, then, definitely, the Philippines will be likewise involved as a proxy.

Two years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Is the West at fault?” Which featured a lecture that I came across over YouTube. This lecture featured Professor John Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago on the Ukranian conflict and needless to say, the causes of conflict, as I mentioned in my article based on this lecture, is a result of the West thinking that Putin was hell bent on creating a greater Russia, thus giving NATO all good reason to expand eastward and include Ukraine, even if there was no evidence of Putin making any aggressive moves.

It was the western response that made countries suffer and of course, like I said then, Russia will absolutely not quit. Ukraine is of vital strategic interest to Russia but not to the west and, recalling once again what I discussed regarding Professor Mearsheimer’s lecture in this 2022 article, he specifically said then that Asia is the pure competitor for the West, which was why they have been pivoting towards this goal up until today.

Ask me why? America looks at where its future may be in a very dynamic Asia. There is just so much opportunity to benefit from development and, when it comes to the Philippines’ relationship with China, it is one that has spanned over many centuries which should prompt all of us to cooperate for our mutual benefit.

It seems that all this continues to teach us that we have an interconnected global economy and that such interplay ought to help us focus on how we can best come together and find lasting solutions to peace and development. Hence, we talk and talk until we die.

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