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  • 作家相片Rommel C. Banlaoi,

Rommel Banlaoi: Decisive Peaceful Settlement of Disputes Needed To Achieve China-ASEAN Cooperation in Blue Industries In The South China Sea

Editor's Note: Rommel C. Banlaoi, Ph.D., is the Chairman of the Board of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR), chairman of the advisory board at the China Studies Center of the School of International Relations at New Era University in the Philippines, a board member of the China-Southeast Asia Research Center on the South China Sea (CSARC) and a member of the International Panel of Expert of the Maritime Awareness Project (MAP) of the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and the Sasakawa USA Foundation. Nominated and designated as a Deputy National Security Adviser with the rank of Undersecretary in July 2022, now he serves as an independent research expert on security issues, peace advocate, and scholar on counterterrorism issues.


Promoting China-ASEAN cooperation in blue industries to achieve important breakthroughs requires a decisive peaceful settlement of territorial disputes and maritime jurisdictional conflicts in the South China Sea. Without a peaceful settlement truly presents a serious obstacle for the deepening and widening of China-ASEAN cooperation in blue economy.

Although China and ASEAN have already established a strong comprehensive partnership on blue economy as part of their development vision for national and regional prosperity, the escalation of security tension between China and the Philippines in the Second Thomas Shoal, in particular, and in the whole of the South China Sea, in general, is increasingly disrupting the positive momentum of maritime cooperation for sustainable common development in the region. The growing military activities of extra-regional powers like the United States, Japan and Australia are making them rough for China and ASEAN to achieve their noble goals. These major powers are even creating trilateral and quadrilateral security arrangements involving the Philippines. These mini-lateral security arrangements are in fact undermining the centrality and unity of ASEAN as a security and development provider.

The current approach of the Philippine government of siding with the United States by allowing the expansion of American military presence in the country through the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and negotiating with Japan to have reciprocal military access arrangement with the intention of challenging China is actually militarizing the region. Thus, it is very sad to see the Philippine government running counter the ASEAN principle of maintaining the region as a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality. This current situation is not conducive for the achievement of important breakthroughs in China-ASEAN cooperation in blue industries.

To sustain the positive momentum of China-ASEAN cooperation in blue industries, it is imperative for China and the Philippines to rebuild trust and confidence in order to find effective measures to deescalate the current security tension in the South China Sea. The de-escalation of current tension is an important step to reopen the process of dialogues and direct consultations in order for the two parties to settle their disputes in the South China Sea. There is a need to recognize that a peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea is an important aspect of China-ASEAN cooperation in blue industries.

(The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of China-ASEAN Observation. If you have a specific expertise, or would like to share your thought, please send us your writings at

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