Manila ramps up security ahead of Asean summit

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has opted not to press China to abide by an worldwide arbitration decision past year that ruled in Manila's favor and invalidated Beijing's sweeping South China Sea claims.

With the Organisation For Economic Cooperation and Development forecasting growth of 4.9 percent across Asean this year, from 4.8 percent last year, and average yearly growth of 5.1 percent through to 2021, former Philippine foreign secretary Albert said Asean leaders still see the benefits of economic integration.

With the theme of "Partnering for change, engaging the world", this will be the first summit hosted by the Philippines as the country assumes the rotating Chair of ASEAN in 2017. Who will dare pressure China? Us?

"China is confused and the worldwide community is intrigued", Renato de Castro, global studies professor at Manila's De La Salle University, told AFP.

He has also railed against the United States for its supposed inaction on China's aggressive island building-activities on the disputed sea, saying Washington could have sent warships there to confront Beijing.

The Philippines Acting Foreign Minister says his country is keen to promote further investment with China, but cautioned that it could take some time to get large infrastructure projects already agreed up and running.

"But the code of conduct in the sea, that's a different story".

ASEAN and China are also working on a "framework" agreement for a code of conduct on the South China Sea, with Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei other claimants.

Last year's ASEAN statement in Laos emphasized the importance of "non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation".

In "good cop, bad cop" fashion, the defense establishment is taking a stronger stand against China's maritime ambitions near the Philippines' coasts, while Duterte maintains a diplomatic charm offensive towards Beijing. And during a high-profile visit to Beijing last October, Duterte-who has dubiously claimed to have Chinese ancestry-announced his "separation from the United States" while declaring his intention to join Beijing's "ideological flow", forming an alliance with China and Russian Federation "against the world".

"Everyone is now watching the Philippines, we expect China to send its message to Southeast Asian countries through Duterte", the official said, requesting anonymity.

A government statement said the CPR discussed their work plan for 2017, reports and recommendations to the ASEAN senior officials and ASEAN ministers, commemorative activities on the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. "You might want to extrapolate something out of it", the President said.

Meanwhile, the People's SEA Campaign will hold a press conference on Wednesday at the Mabuhay Restop, South Drive, Rizal Park (across the old Army Navy Club) to present their campaign related to ASEAN.

Dela Rosa said "We have rehearsed and fine-tuned all our systems and procedures for this even such that we have established a full backup system that will address any unforeseen situation that may arise".

  • Tracy Klein