MANILA – The Philippines should separate its economic relations with China from their maritime row, an analyst said Saturday.
Lyle Morris, a senior policy analyst of the RAND Corporation, said geopolitics and economics are not mutually inclusive.
He said Manila can afford to have a stronger stance in the maritime dispute at the same time have a healthy bilateral trade and investment relations with Beijing.
“I know that’s a difficult thing to do when you have China investing a lot of money in your country, but to the extent you are deterred from Chinese warnings to possibly take back or to cease investing in a country if that country undertake actions in territorial disputes in South China Sea sets a negative or bad precedent I believe,” Morris told ANC.
“I mean China has an interest as well. I think China does send signals about economic coercion and in some ways countries can call their bluff. And I think in some examples that you find, China will not follow through with that threat.”
Morris added that the increasing presence of Chinese vessels in Pag-asa Island (Thitu Island) should not deter the Philippines from pursuing fishing and construction activities on the island.
“I also hope that the Philippines is not deterred from undertaking construction activities,” he said.
“I’m aware that the Philippines also needs to continue to rebuild its runway on Pag-asa and that has yet to be undertaken but I hope that the Philippines continues with the project.”
Over 600 Chinese vessels have been circling Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea since January this year, the military earlier said.