Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano Australia’s new strategy to manage China’s rise which is the quadrilateral grouping with Japan, India and the US — may start an arms race with China and see Beijing step up its island building.
Cayetano, who represented the President at the ASEAN Special Summit held in Sydney, Australia, responded negatively against Australian criticism of the Philippines over its failure to follow an international court ruling on the West Philippine Sea.
The $56 million summit was seen by analysts as a means for Australia to improve its security and economic ties with ASEAN countries as the region underwent major changes.
The ASEAN summit saw Australia face several questions over its Indo-Pacific strategy and the revived quadrilateral security dialogue, which seeks to build a relationship with the US, Japan, and India.
Divisions among ASEAN members are seen within individual south-east Asian countries. Over the last several years, ASEAN has become increasingly divided along economic and nationalist issue. The weakest states have become dependent on their economic relationships with China and obligated to support China’s positions on issues such as the disputes in the West Philippine China Sea.
Meanwhile, the Philippines Foreign Secretary said, “the quadrilateral alliance could be useful for regional security by increasing deterrence against Chinese militarisation or it could be a bad development.
“If you push too much, China’s going to push back, so it’s very complex. I don’t think anyone wants violence but (there is) potential to have an arms race, because if you have more navy ships there then it will be normal for China to want to have more islands or defenses further from the shore.”
Recently Cayetano left the country to Beijing to discuss issues such as trade, agriculture, infrastructure development, counter-terrorism cooperation, and other regional concerns.
“We will discuss broad areas of collaboration and cooperation and always make it a point to talk about our differences, of our dispute in the South China Sea,” he said. “But we talk about it in the context of how we can improve our situation.”