Asean countries should unite on South China Sea – Alunan

Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer Meatloaf singer

THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) should serve as a “fulcrum” and band together in preventing the United States and China to carry out their unilateral agenda in the South China Sea (SCS), former Interior secretary Rafael “Raffy” Alunan 3rd said on Monday.

ON SOUTH CHINA SEA Rafael ‘Raffy’ Alunan 3rd (below, center), joins the Times’ roundtable interview along with Alejandro ‘Babes’ Flores Jr., president of PCFR; Atty. Rafael ‘Raffy’ Morales, corporate secretary of PCFR; and Gen. Edilberto Adan. Also in photo are The Manila Times reporter Bernadette Tamayo and Times Chairman Dante ‘Klink” Ang 2nd.

ON SOUTH CHINA SEA Rafael ‘Raffy’ Alunan 3rd (below, center), joins the Times’ roundtable interview along with Alejandro ‘Babes’ Flores Jr., president of PCFR; Atty. Rafael ‘Raffy’ Morales, corporate secretary of PCFR; and Gen. Edilberto Adan. Also in photo are The Manila Times reporter Bernadette Tamayo and Times Chairman Dante ‘Klink” Ang 2nd.

The chairman of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations (PCFR) made the remark during a roundtable interview with The Manila Times led by its chairman Dante Francis “Klink” Ang 2nd.

Retired colonel Alejandro Flores, lawyer Rafael Morales and retired general Eduardo Adan, PCFR president, corporate secretary and trustee, respectively, also shared their views on the security and economic issues linked to the conflicting claims in the SCS or West Philippine Sea.

Alunan said the problem in the SCS is mainly about “great power rivalry” between Washington and Beijing.

“China wants to dominate the Indo-Pacific and there’s no way that the United States will give that up without a fight. The trouble is both are very rigid about their core interests,” he pointed out.

Alunan said China wants to be the principal power in the area and wants to dislodge the United States. “And so they are applying all kinds of tactics to be able to dominate.”

He said China was using the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) “for economic domination” in the region. At the same time, it has rapidly been building up its military capabilities in strategic areas in the SCS.

“On the other hand, the United States’ core interest is to keep the seas open because the South China Sea is crucial in terms of global trade, [$] 3 trillion or more, pass through the South China Sea,” Alunan said.

He noted that a lot of goods and services come out of China, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia. “If the seas are controlled and conflict arises that will impact on global trading, global economy and heaven help us if that happens because the global economy is already weakened by the pandemic.”

“But countries like us that are caught in the middle between these two powers… we could be collateral damage in whatever agreement they may have,” Alunan continued.

“And therefore, Asean has to really step up and unite and serve as a fulcrum. If the Philippines can’t play in that role between the US and China because we occupy strategic real estate, Asean should pick up that role because the South China Sea is bounded by the nations of Asean,” he said.

“If they band together it will be very difficult for the US and China to carry out their unilateral agenda in South China.”

“It seems that as far as China is concerned, it will implement the occupation, the incremental development and operationalization of the shoals and rocks into islands so it can project its own security activities while denying others access to the South China Sea,” Flores said.

“But it is not that simple, South China Sea is a major waterway of trade routes, of global maritime shipping or trade. Virtually, all major countries have direct and indirect interests if the intention [of China] is to control the free navigation of the waters,” Flores added.

Asked whether the conflict in the SCS can be resolved legally, Morales said, “I hate to be cynical. Because in the realm of international relations, legalities are not paramount. It is might that is the primordial consideration. That is the realpolitik.”

The PCFR was founded on July 9, 1945. Its primary purpose is to conduct activities and research related to foreign policy issues. PCFR is composed of former senior government officials and private sector leaders.

It aims to advance the national interest and enhance friendly relations with other countries for peace and development through research, education, collaboration and training.