Locsin hits West, praises China in 1st Beijing trip

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr criticized the West and heaped praises on China on Wednesday, March 20, during his first official trip to Beijing.

Locsin contrasted the approaches of China and the West – from helping the developing world to tackling other countries' problems – in a joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Locsin is undertaking his first official trip to China from Monday to Thursday, March 18 to 21. Locsin's trip comes as the Philippines and China study the possible joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which China claims despite an international ruling favoring the Philippines.

Locsin began by saying he is proud to have helped bring the Philippines and China closer together, "after being pulled apart by shortsighted commitments to others."

He said his meeting with Wang sought to take stock, among other things, "of differences we have yet to resolve; of the need to set them aside as we pursue more enriching and advantageous common goals." 

While critics blast the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines, he also assured China "that the Philippines will look out for your people in my country as I have seen China look out for our people in yours."

Locsin: 'Nothing to fear'

"I speak for my country which wants to see much to hope for, and nothing to fear from the rise of a new power," Locsin said. 

He pointed out that "no other country in history but the new China has aspired to rise higher, not by stepping on others, but by helping them rise alongside her."

"To put it in concrete terms, without the new China, there will be no prospect whatsoever for the developing world to grow into emerging economies. We would still be, as throughout the second half of the last century we were, at the mercy of Western markets which, on a whim, can turn us away – as they did throughout the post- and neo-colonial period," said Locsin.

"The emergence of a new China is creating a world where the lesser have a chance. And more than a chance: cooperation for mutual benefit instead of words. Traveling from the Far West to arrive in China it is as though I had left yesterday and arrived at tomorrow today," he added.

Foreign interference

Locsin also alluded to supposed attempts by Western countries to interfere in internal problems. 

The Duterte administration blasts the West, especially the United States and the European Union, for supposedly meddling in President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody anti-drug campaign.

The Philippine government, for one, has accused the West of extending aid to the Philippines with "strings attached," such as respecting human rights, unlike China that supposedly does not impose the same conditions. (China is, however, accused of extending aid to the Phiippines in exchange for rights over the West Philippine Sea.)

"Our two countries' mutual respect is best shown by our shared refusal to take part in outside attempts to take advantage of each one's internal problems; these are best and rightly left to national solutions. You have my word on that," Locsin said.

"There is multilateralism and there is foreign interference; the line between them is often blurred. Good intentions mask old imperialisms," the Philippines' foreign secretary added. 

Balancing ties

Locsin visited China two weeks after he hosted in Manila his American counterpart, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

During this visit, Locsin sang a tune favorable to Washington, as he said there is no need to review the Philippines' 7-decade Mutual Defense Treaty with the US, contradicting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana 

Locsin had said that under his watch, the Department of Foreign Affairs is refining the "friends to all, enemies to none" policy adopted by his predecessor, Alan Peter Cayetano.

Locsin said in November 2018, "It is now 'Friends to friends, enemies to enemies, and worse enemies to false friends.'" – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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