Early in July, a delegation of Chinese scholars visited Manila as part of a Belt and Road public diplomacy series in Southeast Asian countries. A roundtable discussion with Philippine scholars was convened to provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s perspectives.

As the lead discussant, Professor Wang Yiwei, Director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University, presented the goals, components, and development of the Belt and Road Initiative; and stressed mutual connectivity as the key for today’s comparative advantage. He also addressed common concerns that are raised about BRI such as environment degradation, debt imperialism, transparency, issues of social responsibility, and whether it is rules-based or development-oriented.

Professor Wang was joined by three other scholars: Xu Liping, Director of Asian and Pacific Research institute at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Su Xiaohui, Deputy Director, Department of International and Strategic Studies, China Institute of International Studies; and Hu Bo, Research Fellow of Peking University Ocean Strategy Research Centre. The three discussed Philippines-China relations, China’s neighborhood diplomacy, and maritime security, respectively.

The participants exchanged views on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, fishery cooperation, and subregional cooperation highlighting the prospects for economic corridors such as the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.

Also joining the meeting were Zhang Sheping and Luo Jingying, Counsellor and Attaché, respectively, of the Asian Department of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The roundtable discussion was co-organized by Pathways to Progress and UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

Prof. Wang Yiwei presents Dr. Aileen Baviera a souvenir from China.