Change & Challenge: Philippine Foreign Policy and the Philippine-U.S. Alliance

People's Republic of China, diplomacy, Republic of the Philippines, Great Hall of the People

Change & Challenge: Philippine Foreign Policy and the Philippine-U.S. Alliance

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 - 2:00pm
Venue: 
Deakin Room
Speaker(s): 
Renato Cruz De Castro (De La Salle University)
Convenor: 
Dr Matthew J Walton
Series: 
Southeast Asia Seminar

From 2010 to 2016, then President, Benigno Aquino balanced China’s expansive maritime claim in the South China Sea. President Aquino challenged China by shifting the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) focus from domestic security to territorial defence, bolstering closer Philippine-U.S. security relations; acquiring American military equipment; seeking from Washington an explicit security guarantee under the 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty (MDT); and promoting a strategic partnership with Japan. The Duterte Administration, however, is unravelling its predecessor’s balancing strategy by distancing itself from the U.S., and gravitating towards China despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 12 July 2016 award to the Philippines. President Duterte’s foreign policy is directed at reviving equi-balancing towards China, in contrast to former President Aquino’s balancing strategy. This is best exemplified by Duterte’s efforts to harness China for several major infrastructure and investment projects in the Philippines, and to resort to bilateral negotiations with Beijing. In conclusion, Professor De Castro argues that instead of relying on the U.S., President Duterte is cultivating a closer security partnership with Japan to equi-balance an emergent China.

Renato Cruz De Castro holds the Charles Lui Chi Keung Professorial Chair in China Studies in the International Studies Department of Manila’s De La Salle University. A former Fulbright Scholar, Professor De Castro was the U.S. State Department ASEAN Research Fellow and is an alumnus of the Daniel Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. He taught at the National Defence College and Foreign Service Institute and is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Albert Del Rosario Institute for Strategic and International Studies, and was a consultant to the National Security Council of the Philippines during the Aquino Administration. Professor De Castro’s research interests include Philippine-U.S. security relations, Philippine defence and foreign policies, U.S. defence and foreign policies in East Asia, and the international politics of East Asia. He has written over 80 articles on international relations and security that have been published in scholarly journals and edited works in the Philippines and abroad.