MANILA, Philippines – British author Dr. Martin Jacques believes it is high time for the Philippines to stop acting like a proxy for the United States and resolve its sea dispute with China by recognizing the importance of its relationship with the civilization state.
Speaking to ANC’s Headstart, Jacques said the Western-centric mentality of the Philippines after 50 years of American colonization means that the country is “behind the curve” when it comes to recognizing the importance of trade in China.
“The Philippines must recognize which way the world is moving and what is happening to their own region. They need the big picture, not starting with the little picture which is some rocky islands. You can't start thinking about the future of the Philippines in those terms because this region is being absolutely transformed in a remarkably short space of time by the rise of China. To be frank with you, historically speaking, forget about America in this region. It is in decline. It is in rampant decline,” he told Headstart host Karen Davila.
He added: “The future of this region for the indefinite future is going to be more and more bound up with China. Therefore the critical relationship not just for the Philippines but for Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and even Japan in the longer run is China.”
Jacques is the author of the bestselling book "When China Rules The World: The End Of The Western World And The Birth Of A New Global Order.”
In the interview, Jacques noted that China does not have a history of overseas, maritime-based colonization, preferring instead to expand its reach westward in its own continent.
He also noted that the Chinese regarded themselves as the center of civilization and often looked down on other peoples.
The author said China has a very sophisticated culture with an extremely advanced form of governance, making it one of the most competent states in the world.
Dispute over Panatag shoal
In the interview, Jacques said he believes the Philippines can resolve its ongoing territorial dispute with China over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea without involving the US.
The author said he does not believe the Philippines should abandon its territorial claim over the Panatag Shoal, noting that he is agnostic about whose claim is more legitimate.
“It’s a difficult problem but not an impossible problem to sort out. The argument over the island should not be allowed to derail the relationship with China, to poison the relationship and to sabotage the relationship. That is so shortsighted. That is so backward looking. That is so regressive. The Philippines has got to find a way of handling the island question in the context of engaging with China,” he said.
“It is perfectly possible to reach a settlement with China on the island. There’s not going to be a war over the island. The East China Sea and Japan is an entirely different question, there will not be a war in the South China Sea over these islands with any of the claimants,” he added.
Jacques said it is not surprising that the Philippines “feels itself to be almost a proxy for the United States” in the Americans’ pivot towards Asia.
“What the Philippines shouldn’t do and I think it is sorely tempted to do and if I may say so, being a little bit down that road, is to think, ‘Well, we can sort out the Chinese with our American allies. Anyway, they’re encouraging us to be a little bit vocal about this question.’ I’m afraid that has happened. What’s happened is the relationship with China has deteriorated and the Philippines is in a way been a bit of a stalking horse for the American pivot in the region and I don’t think this is good news for the country. If what I am saying is true, in that the future of this region is China, they are making the wrong point in asking the wrong question. The question is not how can we have an argument with China, but how can we get on with China?”