Asian Century Journal

An Asian Century Philippines Publication

Assessing Philippines’ Position on Taiwan Issue, not Joining ICC and their Impacts on the Philippines Statement

 

by Prof. Anna Malindog-Uy

 

A. On the Taiwan Issue

 


The rising tension between the US and China due to US HOR Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan despite China’s expressed opposition is a provocation vis-à-vis China in the strongest sense. The visit of Pelosi to Taiwan has challenged the bottom line and the red line of China while undermining China’s
sovereign and territorial integrity over Taiwan, a regened province of China. This is a reckless move on the part of Pelosi that has changed the trajectory and the atmosphere of the Taiwan Strait.


Being the third highest public official of the United States who recently visited Taiwan despite strong opposition from the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese people only signals the further weakening and deterioration of US-China Relations.


The visit of Pelosi is a serious violation of the One-China Principle and the provisions of the three China-U.S. joint communiqués. Accordingly, the visit of Pelosi has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations and seriously undermined China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces in Taiwan.


The One-China principle clearly states that there is only one sovereign state under the name China, with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) serving as the sole legitimate government of that China, and Taiwan is a part of China. This is one of the basic norms governing international relations, and one of the bedrocks of international law.


The One-China principle is recognized by 181 countries including the United States. While Taiwan’s so-called “independence” is recognized by less than two dozen countries across the globe. The PRC has been recognized by the United Nations and across the world as the sole legal government representing the entire Chinese people. This is I think the glaring fact that Pelosi and company disregarded and disrespected when she landed in Taiwan last Tuesday. Again, this definitely signals the further deterioration of China-US relations. To add, the problem with the US is that, they say one thing and do another thing.


They have this deliberate practice of strategic ambiguity also known as a policy of strategic uncertainty of being intentionally ambiguous on certain aspects of US foreign policy that suit their geostrategic and hegemonic interests at the expense of another country. In short, US foreign policy toward the Taiwan issue vis-à-vis the One China Principle is akin to a “two-faced” foreign policy loaded with double standards.

Indeed, the recent visit of Pelosi to Taiwan has no doubt put the Taiwan Strait in a new round of tensions and severe challenges. Such an irresponsible move on the part of Pelosi, the Taiwan authorities, and the US deserves condemnation for it puts the whole world on a brink of another world war.


On the part of the Philippines, it is a positive note that as a country we adhere to the One China Principle, which is one of the foundations of our bilateral relations with China.

On another note, Real Talk dictates, that Taiwan is just a pawn of the US in its chess match with China thus the Philippines must not get involved and should not allow the country to be another pawn or proxy of the US. I think that’s the crux of the matter and the most important thing that the current administration has to think about and figure out given the obsolete and lopsided 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).


Abrogating or revisiting or renegotiating the MDT, EDCA and the VFA is like a liberation for the Philippines from the indirect control and its subservience or the state of being submissive to the US, especially in military aspects.

More importantly, maintaining the VFA, EDCA, or even the MDT in its original texts is an anti-thesis in the pursuit of a genuine independent foreign policy and non-aligned stance of the country. The Philippines must pursue an independent foreign policy that upholds and prioritizes its national interests and not those of other countries.


If any case, China decides to hasten the reunification of Taiwan to the mainland/motherland, this process is an internal affair of China, and countries like the Philippines should not get involved. If we do otherwise, it would mean we are interfering in China’s sovereign internal affairs and it will generate a backlash on our relations with China. These kinds of scenarios are for the current administration under PBBM to ponder on given that the US has made a lot of promises to Taiwan that it will come to its aid in any eventuality in the Taiwan Strait, and surely, the Philippines will be pressured by the US to take a side because of this MDT. I hope the such scenario will never happen, but the situation on the ground tells a different story. But there’s always hope when leaders exercise prudence and are responsible.


As a country, the Philippines needs a genuine and authentic independent foreign policy in every sense and that would mean complete neutrality and positioning itself as non-aligned. In doing so, time is of the essence. The Philippines has no enemies and should not create one at all costs. Thus, no need to choose a side. Our relations with each country should be based on our national interests and should be based on what’s good for the country and not for the benefit of other countries at our expense. The Philippines is a friend of China and the US. US enemies or adversaries are not the country’s enemies/adversaries
and this must be emphasized by the current administration under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. As a country we should uphold our national interests and be dragged into any conflict, not our own making is I guess not part of our national interests.

 


B. Rejoining ICC?

 


On the issue of the International Criminal Court (ICC), I agree with PBBM’s position that as a country we should not be rejoining the ICC. On 19 March 2018, the ICC was officially notified by the United Nations (UN) that the Republic of the Philippines had submitted a written notification of withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the Court’s founding treaty, on 17 March. To note, withdrawing from the Rome Statute is a sovereign right of the Philippines. The withdrawal took effect on 17 March 2019. Hence it means, we
are NOT anymore a member of the ICC. Any steps taken by the ICC in its pursuit of a preliminary probe/investigation are akin to meddling and snooping on the Philippines’ sovereignty.


Also, under the Rome Statute, there’s such a term as “complementarity principle,” which is a cornerstone of the Rome Statute legal system. This principle denotes that national jurisdictions have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for international crimes. This means
that the ICC can only investigate crimes against humanity if local courts are unable or unwilling to do so. But that’s NOT the case in the Philippines. Way far from that.


To note, the Philippines during the time of the Duterte administration to date has no state-sanctioned killings, and the country’s independent courts could prosecute alleged violations by police and law enforcement agencies in the conduct of anti illegal drugs operations at any given time.


Hence, the country has a functioning and vibrant justice system with independent courts able and willing to prosecute and conduct criminal proceedings before our local courts.


Most importantly we are NOT a failed state and there’s NO need for an entity like the ICC to do criminal proceedings and investigations on our behalf. A BIG NO!

 

<strong>Anna Rosario Malindog-Uy</strong> 
Anna Rosario Malindog-Uy 

is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD), Peking University, Beijing China. She taught Political Science, International Relations, Development Studies, European Studies, Southeast Asia, and China Studies. She is a researcher-writer, academic, and consultant on a wide array of issues. She has worked as a consultant with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other local and international NGOs.
She is currently a director and the Vice President for External Affairs of the Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute (ACPSSI), a think tank based in Manila. She also serves as the political/geopolitical analyst of ACPSSI. She is also the President of Techperformance Corp, an IT-based company in the Philippines.

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