The Philippines should keep in mind its national interest and exercise "due diligence" when engaging with China as the Asian giant is "still processing what it means to be a global power," a Filipino professor in Beijing said Friday.
The advice was given amid fears that the Philippines might be entering a debt trap once it finalizes loan deals with China.
China has been criticized for offering China infrastructure loans to developing nations in exchange for access to natural resources or control of ports.
Last year, Sri Lanka had to lease its Hambantota port to a Chinese operator for 99 years in order to pay its debt to Beijing. Nearly similar incidents happened to Pakistan and Nepal, countries that also borrowed money from China.
The Philippines, under President Rodrigo Duterte, signed several memorandums of agreement with China but actual loan and project documents have yet to be signed by both parties.
"It's up to the Philippines to keep our national interest, our core interest in mind when we engage in talks, when we explore joint venture, and other projects that may lead to such a debt trap," Prof. Jaime Florcruz of the Peking University in Beijing told ANC's Early Edition.
Florcruz said the government has to "exercise due diligence" to ensure that the Philippines will not be the next victim of the Chinese debt trap.
"We sit next to a rising power... We should do our own due diligence in terms of coming up with projects like that," Florcruz said.
"They've (Chinese) been bullied for a hundred years and now they have taken their rightful place as a global power. I think they are still processing what it means to be a global power. Sometimes they can be clumsy in the way they project that power," he said.
"They need a little more time to process that, to feel good about their power, but at the same time, be good to neighbors like the Philippines," he added.
Despite the flexing of China's economic muscle, Florcruz downplayed observations that the Philippines will be risking its sovereignty as Beijing is allegedly negotiating for the joint development of oil and gas resources in the South China Sea.
"I don't think any self-respecting country will ever sell sovereignty in exchange for money," he said.