FOREIGN Secretary of the Philippines Alan Cayetano has proclaimed that having Asia’s time has arrived, spurred by economic development, strong political leadership and mass communications like social media.
“Asia has gone through so much and sacrificed so much for the world,” remarked Cayetano in a television interview during a visit to China for the Boao Forum for Asia (BOA) this week in the southern Hainan province of China. He is attending the event along with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Now the whole world looks at the potential of Asia, the opportunities of Asia. No country in the world can ignore Asia, the markets of Asia and the people of Asia,” he was quoted by the state-run Philippine News Agency as saying. “The Philippines’ destiny is in Asia.”
Cayetano also praised the leadership of President Duterte and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, stating that both leaders were primarily concerned with “how to benefit their people”.
Under the Duterte administration, the Philippines has distanced itself from traditional ally the United States and has cozied up with communist China. Western criticism of the government’s bloody war on drugs has also bolstered ties with Beijing, whose own human rights record is routinely scrutinised.
During a speech on Tuesday, Xi outlined his vision for China’s economy and foreign policy, pledging to further open up to imports as the country engages in a trade war with the United States sparked by President Donald Trump.
“I haven’t had a single conversation with State Councilor Wang Yi or with any other high official of China, where they did not mention how they should benefit both Chinese people and the Filipino people,” added Cayetano, who praised China’s massive Eurasian infrastructure initiative dubbed Belt and Road.
In terms of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the Foreign Secretary said that while there were “many opportunities to be at war”, however that the regional bloc had been a success over the past five decades.
“What excites me is that there are regional rivalries going on, yet everyone is finding a way to cooperate,” he said.
Also speaking at the forum on Wednesday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong praised Asia’s rapid economic progress and China’s commitment to liberalising its economy and free trade.
“It is in China’s fundamental interests to contribute more to strengthening multilateralism, in keeping with its larger weight in the world,” Lee said. “This will create an international environment that will enables China to attain its two centenary goals, and other countries to grow and prosper in a stable and peaceful world.”