Last September 12-13, 2016, Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation Inc. (APPFI) partnered with the University of the Philippines Asian Center in hosting a delegation of four scholars from the China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR). The delegation visit is a part of the Memorandum of Agreement between UP and CICIR in 2014, aiming to intensify and reap the benefits of academic and Track 2 diplomacy exchanges. Dean Joefe Santarita of the Asian Center delivered welcome remarks. This is the first exchange between the university and the Chinese think tank after the release of the arbitration results regarding the maritime claim overlaps of the two countries in the South China Sea. It will be recalled that the arbitral tribunal last July 12 issued an award that was perceived to largely favor the Philippines, and which China has said it would not accept.
© Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation Inc.: UP Professors and government representatives on a rountable discussion on Philippines China relations, led by APPFI President Aileen Baviera, CICIR Vice President Fu Mengzi and Asian Center Dean Joefe Santarita.
A roundtable discussion was held on September 12 involving academics and staff from selected government units, revolving around how to move Philippines-China relations forward after the arbitration, and the positions of the new administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte towards China. Aside from retired officials from the Departnment of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense, analysts and researchers from the armed forces and coast guard as well as other maritime security agencies, participated.
APPFI also organized a brief dialogue between CICIR and China watchers from the private sector, where both sides underscored that the way to establish better relations is through trade and investments, and that other possible areas of cooperation should be pursued in the disputed areas, such as fisheries and marine environment conservation. The dialogue was hosted by Mr. Jeffrey Ng of the Astoria Plaza.
Photo from Foreign Service Institute: FSI Director-General Claro Cristobal and CICIR VP Fu Mengzi lead the roundtable discussion on Philippines-China relations.
One highlight of the visit was the exchange of ideas among a small group of analysts that was co-organized with the Foreign Service Institute and held at the Department of Foreign Affairs. The discussions surfaced the need to take concrete actions and to look at areas where cooperation is easily achievable, particularly in the regional commons. Roundtable discussions like these highlight the importance of open and fruitful exchanges among the Track Two communities in the two countries.
APPFI President Aileen Baviera was invited to join a reunion of old friends and classmates from CICIR and the Philippines, who had trained together at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.