by: Mike Joseph Barcena, Don Aldrin Chantioco, Maychelle Ablog, Charlotte Cariño, Novy Marie Cruz, Irish Mae Fang, Mary Grace Ngo and Aira Pacheco and Rhomellie Tang

Since time immemorial, China has been considered as the foremost leader in trade and commerce. The role of the Chinese in the Philippines transcended hundreds of years before the Americans alighted their presence in our country. From then to now, almost everything we wear from clothes, shoes, belts, to the supplies we use around us such as toys and kitchen utensils are from or made in China. This could substantiate the foundation of the close relations between China and the Philippines.

The Philippines maintains its ties with China through investments, trade through import and export, contracts such as road constructions and its most popular example of the most controversial NBN-ZTE deal wherein the Philippine government is forced to choose between the Filipino’s plight to disregard the contract or to allow it to remain to foster still our relationship with China.

On the other hand, the Philippines and the United States have also maintained close ties with each other. Considering the Philippines’ history under the Americans, this is not at all surprising. Trade relations, the scrapped balikatan exercises and the new born visiting forces agreement, to investments and diplomatic envoys between the two countries, it is not difficult to conclude that Philippines and US truly have close relations.

Although this existing relationship is friendly, independence is an indispensable hidden and at the same time very evident factor that is present and revolves with every transaction.

In a peripheral perspective, we must consider a deeper analysis of the RP-US relations and put into context that the US would like to maintain world hierarchy in which it is the world superpower and has dominant control over a number of resources from 3rd world countries.

However, with the passage of time, economies outside that of the US have started to emerge as its worthy competitors. We have Europe,, Japan, North Korea, and even India as the worlds biggest democracy raising its economy and establishing a respectable political standing in global politics. But among these, China is the most outstanding. Bill Clinton was correct all along when once he announced that, “The 21st century belongs to Asia.”

Now, given the US and China as “competing” states for world’s superpower, the Philippines, who happens to maintain close diplomatic ties with both countries, is caught in the crossfire. We now, ask ourselves, will the close ties between China and the Philippines, affect the Philippines’ relations with the US.

With the premises stated earlier, we can safely conclude that there will be changes in the relationship between RP and the US. To put it bluntly, this change is quite inevitable given the situation.

RP-China relations could not have been given great importance or notice by the US if not for the fact that China is starting to challenge America’s power. And since the Philippines is caught in between China and US, triangulation of power takes place. The US may use Philippines to “pull down” China and China may do vice versa.

The US however, can definitely not let go of the Philippines as an ally, no matter how many threats of doing so are thrashed to the government. Basically, the Philippines is its gateway to Asia, considering its strategical location and considering that it is the only Asian nation with a president as a “puppet” for US rules and commands. This undoubtedly would be the situation considering the image of America up to its previous president George Bush. However, with the emergence of a new leadership under Barack Obama, we begin to be uncertain of what kind of relationship we would be expecting between US and the Philippines.

There are many factors that affect RP-US relations and the Philippines’ relationship with China is only one of them. With Obama as a new president, and with his evidently opposite way of handling America’s economy and international relations, we may see a more positive change in this new leadership and we may assume that it will not give any negative sight on the improving relations between China and the Philippines.

(The authors are Political Science students of St. Louis University. This essay was prepared for the subject Foreign Relations.)

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