Dr. Michael Tkacik, Professor of Political Science from the Stephen F. Austin State University, delivered his lecture on “Rising China: Specific Policy Options for the Philippines and the United States” at the Carlos P. Romulo Library, Foreign Service Institute on 29 January 2015 as part of the Mabini Dialogue Series.
The dispute over the South China Sea is one of the most pressing concerns of the international community, and, in Dr. Tkacik’s own words, “the most important territorial dispute of today.” Without discounting the relevance of the conflict in the Middle East and the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, Dr. Tkacik impressed upon the audience the gravity of the South China Sea disputes due its potential to transform the international order and its capacity to fundamentally alter the status quo.
Dr. Tkakic then discussed in detail the specific policy options open to the Philippines and the United States. Strengthening the US’ alliances in the region would serve as deterrence for China, and it would also prevent China for dominating the first island chain. Dr. Tkakic recommends that the US provide greater clarity to its commitment with the Philippines in the South China Sea.
On the part of the Philippines, Dr. Tkacik discussed the importance of strengthening economic, intelligence, and military ties with the US, while not placing much stock in confidence-building measures with China due to its hardened position on the South China Sea. He further recommended that the Philippines improve bilateral actions and draw closer to states such as Japan, Vietnam, and India who also have a vested interest in ensuring that China does not attain hegemon status in the region.
The Mabini Dialogue was attended by the officials and Staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as participants from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Dr. Tkacik’s lecture at the FSI was made possible by the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (Fulbright Philippines).