By APD writer Melo M. Acuna
MANILA, Oct. 12 (APD) – Professor Clarita Carlos, former president of the National Defense College of the Philippines said China will play an important role as the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) embarks into its goal of economic integration.
“We’re moving towards regional integration and we’re talking of 640 million (people) market,” Dr. Carlos said in an interview at the University of the Philippines.
She explained the ten economies could be linked by highways, railways and maritime facilities and will be partners with China’s “One Belt, One Road” program under President Xi Jinping.
She added China and Russia will get into the picture because U. S. President Donald Trump has in a way withdrawn from the international stage.
“What matters now is who buys our products as economics has taken the lead ahead of politics,” she further explained.
Asked how China should relate with ASEAN, Dr. Carlos said the kind of relations would vary from country to country as the Philippines has began pivoting to its Asian neighbors including China and India.
“Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam and China are linked through the Mekong River,” she said.
She added Malaysia has very robust relations with China just like Singapore.
It will be beneficial for ASEAN to harmonize its existing laws, including economic policies because blocs like the European Union will deal with the regional block instead of individual countries.
Dr. Carlos said President Xi Jinping’s and China’s vision of “A Community of Shared Future” will be enhanced should there be “shared values, shared orientation and meaning.”
She said this will come through people-to-people relations and “continued exchange.”
“China has embarked on its own scholarship pgoram for various countries where some 100,000 students will benefit including some Filipino students,” she explained.
The Americans had their Fullbright scholarship program where they “sold American values for liberal education.”
She underscored the need to increase the people’s consciousness about ASEAN because knowledge oif the regional association is limited to academicians. The youth should also be involved because more than half of the country’s 54 million voters belong to the youth.
Asked further what the 19th Chinese National Congress and President Xi should do to further make its mark in ASEAN, Dr. Carlos said the Chinese leadership should continue its programs under the “One Belt, One Road” which augurs well with the Philippines “Build, Build, Build” mantra.
She said the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) provides financial packages to countries with lesser conditionalities.
In the Philippines, Dr. Carlos said building roads across the country, specially in insurgency-laden areas would make people feel and experience government presence.
“The infrastructure program would in a way, improve the lives of people in the countryside,” Dr. Carlos concluded. Dr. Carlos is one of the most sought-after political analyst in Philippine media.
The ASEAN Leaders Summit will take place in Manila from November 13-15,2017 where international and regional leaders are expected to talk part. Ther Philippines is hosting the event which coincides with the 50th ASEAN Founding Anniversary.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)