PH and Taiwan: Strong military ties
Taiwan and the Philippines are good neighbors. Though the Philippines pursues a One-China policy that regards Taiwan as a mere province of mainland China, the Philippine government maintains and continues to value its robust and comprehensive bilateral ties with the Taiwan government.
The Philippines has strong ties with Taiwan in the economic, social and cultural realm. There is even suspicion that the Philippines has discreet security ties with Taiwan because of both governments’ vibrant and dynamic security alliance with United States.
Being both security allies of the United States, the Philippines and Taiwan have inherent security relations. These security relations play a vital role in America's pivot to Asia.
As American allies, military officers from the Philippines and Taiwan have had regular exchanges. In fact, Taiwan’s War College inspired the establishment of the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) in 1963.
The Philippines and Taiwan have even established regular exchanges of their military officers. They shared intelligence information during the Cold War, the post-Cold War, and the global war on terrorism pursued in the aftermath of the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Prior to the establishment of Philippines’ relations with the People’s Republic of China (PROC), the Philippines had diplomatic relations first with the Republic of China (ROC). When the Philippines became an independent republic in 1946, the very first Treaty of Amity it entered into was with the ROC then called as the Nationalist China.
Establishing diplomatic relations with the ROC was considered to be a foreign policy priority of the Philippine government because both defended democracy as a way of life. In response, the ROC was one of the first countries to recognize the Philippines as an independent democratic republic.
Common historical experiences during the war, geographic proximity, cultural familiarity, and shared democratic values were crucial factors for the close ties between the Philippines and Taiwan. The current challenge in Philippines-Taiwan relations resulting from the killing of a 65-year old Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard should not allow their bilateral ties to deteriorate.
Both the Philippines and Taiwan have democratic governments. Democratic peace idea in international relations contends that democratic governments do not go to war.
But Taiwan’s decision to conduct military drills in waters between the Philippines and Taiwan poses an aberration to the democratic peace argument. Because of a single incident that provoked public outcry in Taiwan, the Taiwan military decided to flex its military muscle against the Philippines, a close and friendly neighbor for many centuries. There is indeed a need for the Philippine government to hold accountable those responsible for the unfortunate incident that occurred on May 9.
The Philippine government also has to admit its lapses in responding to the incident in order to calm the reaction of Taiwan. But it is not prudent for Taiwan to display its military might against a friendly neighbor and a common ally of the United States. Its decision to implement various sanctions against the Philippines is ethnocentric and insensitive to long-term ties.
If the current unpopular Taiwan government is using the May 9 incident to earn short-term political mileage from its people by allowing its ties with the Philippines to deteriorate, Taiwan may suffer an unintended long-term strategic loss.
As a democratic government aspiring to become a “sovereign state,” Taiwan needs the support of the Philippines government. In fact, the Philippines’ friendship with Taiwan even risks Manila’s very important relations with Beijing. Taiwan should be reminded that the Philippines is a longtime friend and not an enemy. - Rappler.com
Rommel Banlaoi is the Vice President of the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies (PACS) and Head of the Center for Intelligence National Security Studies (CINSS) of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR).