Last July, the University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS) under its China/Strategic Studies Program launched a lecture series featuring Chinese scholars. Along with the program’s other activities, the lecture series aims to promote intellectual and civil society linkages between the Philippines and China in order to build mutual learning and trust.
The first lecture-discussion, organized in partnership with the UP Asian Center, was held last July 3, 2015 at the ERP Room of the UP CIDS. Dr. Chen Bo from the Center for Cold War International History Studies, East China Normal University delivered a lecture entitled “Archival Research on Sino-Southeast Asian Relations during the Cold War”. Dr. Rhodora V. Azanza, the Director of the Office of International Linkages (UP OIL) delivered welcome remarks while Assoc. Prof. Rolando G. Talampas, the College Secretary of the Asian Center, closed the forum.
Dr. Chen talked about the official Chinese Communist Party (CCP) archives and the provincial archives which show the diplomatic engagements of China with Southeast Asian countries, primarily with Vietnam, during the Cold War. He noted that despite being important materials in studying the diplomatic relations of China during the Cold War, the CCP archives are not open to the public. Meanwhile, he said that the provincial and local archives are “great buried treasures” which deserve to be explored in order to conduct diplomatic history studies of contemporary China.
Dr. Ricardo T. Jose from the UP Department of History served as the reactor for this event. He said that there are more documents on the Cold War available in the West than in the East. One reason for this is the imbalance in the reproduction of documents and the level of leniency in each country. To end, he noted that in the Philippines, problems in accessing documents on the Cold War is the main reason why such historical period is greatly misunderstood.
The second lecture was held last July 23, 2015 at the ERP Room of the UP CIDS. Dr. Wen Zha from China Foreign Affairs University delivered her lecture on China’s “One Belt, One Road Initiative” and its Political Risks. Dr. Edna A. Co, the Director of the UP CIDS, delivered the welcome remarks, while Dr. Aileen SP. Baviera, head of the China/Strategic Studies Program, served as the reactor for the lecture.
Dr. Zha emphasized that despite being seen as a prospective economic driver in China, the “One Belt, One Road” initiative that seeks to connect China economically with neighboring countries in both mainland and maritime Asia, has a lot of political risks. First, there is a great risk of a Sino-US rivalry in the region. Second, China’s neighbors are getting more anxious with regards to their dependence on China’s economy. Third, China’s capital investments may also be at risk due to domestic political conditions. Dr. Zha presented some suggestions on how China can minimize the political risks of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative. The suggestions included controlling corruption, relying on multilateral institutions such as the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investments Bank), ensuring that the economic benefits reach the majority, and understanding how to make the economic statecraft more effective. She concluded the lecture by saying that China has to build its economic influence through more cooperation.
Dr. Baviera agreed that the political implications of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative stir some concern in the region as China is not only becoming an economic superpower, but also a military superpower. In her view, while countries welcome economic cooperation with China, China seems to be asking countries to take a leap of faith if they support such an ambitious Chinese program. She added that in the face of disagreements with other countries, China seems to be setting issues aside instead of resolving them. The important question Dr. Baviera posed is what kind of behavior should be expected of China, if it is to gain trust and support with regards to its “One Belt, One Road” Initiative.
To download lecture Presentation of Dr. Chen Bo, go to this link: http://cids.up.edu.ph/foreign-ministry-provincial-archives-china-research-sino-southeast-asian-relations-cold-war-dr-chen-bo/
To download lecture Presentation of Dr. Wen Zha, go to this link: http://cids.up.edu.ph/chinas-one-belt-one-road-initiative-political-risks-dr-wen-zha/