Public diplomacy and Sino-Filipino relations
In strengthening bilateral relations between the Philippines and China, diplomatic activities and cultural exchanges between the two countries, both state-to-state and people-to-people, are essential ingredients for strengthening mutual understanding, cooperation, friendships and resolution of disputes and conflicts of interest.
Just as interstate relations between the two countries are very important, so far interpersonal relations are one of the building blocks that strongly bind the bilateral relations of China and the Philippines.
Person to person means interaction between normal citizens of two countries at different levels without any official interference and guidance.
Historically, the contact between the two peoples dates back to Antiquity. Indeed, the Philippines and China have long shared histories, kinship and cultural affinities, which could date back to pre-colonial times, that is, before Spanish colonization. Already 3000 years ago, the Chinese and the Filipinos already carried out exchanges, exchanges and exchanges between the peoples.
According to historians and based on early Chinese writings, China began trading with the Philippines as early as the seventh century with ancient coins and porcelain as a commodity through the Galleon trade. Chinese traders traded Chinese goods, iron, lead and zinc with Filipino products such as condiments, beeswax, betel nut and pearls.
Likewise, among Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines is so far geographically one of the closest if not the closest to China, only separated by the disputed waters of the South China Sea (SCS ), in which the two countries have a conflict of interest. .
Nonetheless, despite the geographic proximity and common histories of the two countries, the Philippines and China also experienced challenges in their bilateral relations, which began in the 1950s and 1960s, most notably after the Communist Revolution of 1949 in China.
Meanwhile, the staunchly anti-Communist Philippine government made a point of having limited or no contact with a Communist or Socialist state, as it feared that any contact with the Communist / Socialist world would clear the way. to an outbreak of communism in the country.
It was not until the 1970s, when the Cold War in Asia began to collapse, that the two countries made serious attempts to make contact, which led to fundamental foreign policy changes in China. and the Philippines, which paved the way for rapprochement; ultimately resulting in the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China on June 9, 1975.
Interpersonal relations are one of the determining and essential factors that have contributed to the establishment and strengthening of official diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China. Prior to the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU), a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in the Philippines, was already active in promoting people-to-people relations between the two countries. .
APCU is the pioneer and leading NGO in the Philippines for the promotion of interpersonal diplomacy, bilateral understanding and friendship between the Philippines and China through (a) cultural, academic and visiting exchanges; (b) brotherhood between Philippine local authorities (LGU) and Chinese local authorities; and (c) economic and trade cooperation and partnership.
The association began as an informal group of Chinese friends in 1972 organized to coordinate aid and assistance from the People’s Republic of China for the victims of a destructive flood that hit central Luzon at the time. . China did not have diplomatic relations with the Philippines at the state level during this period, so cooperation efforts between the two countries have been through interpersonal relations and ties.
From this experience, the group expanded to include other progressive artists, businessmen, journalists, civic leaders and academics. Finally, in 1974, the APCU was established and registered as an NGO with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
As part of its programs / projects, it has organized study and cultural visits to China. He also organized various projects such as forums, symposia and developed newsletters launched to promote bilateral understanding, cooperation and friendship between the two countries. These projects and activities predated the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China in June 1975.
The APCU was recently reactivated under the leadership of one of its founding members, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is the president emeritus of the organization. It has regional branches in Baguio, Cebu, Davao, Angeles City and Pangasinan.
Most recently, the APCU launched two important projects which will further contribute to promoting mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation between the two countries and peoples. These projects are the Manila Forum for China-Philippines Relations and the Promotion of Philippines-China Understanding (APPCU) Award – 2021.
It can be recalled that on January 16, 2021, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi and former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo jointly participated in the inauguration of these projects by video link.
The basic rationale for launching these two projects is to actively pursue efforts to promote friendship between China and the Philippines and strengthen people-to-people exchanges, noting that people-to-people friendship is the key to good human relations. State to State. .
Likewise, as neighbors facing each other across the sea, despite differences and conflicts of interest in the contested waters of the SCS, China and the Philippines boast of geographic proximity, cultural affinities. and a long history of friendly exchanges between peoples. This friendship between the two peoples must continue, move forward and be passed on to present and future generations.
The establishment of the Award for Promoting Understanding between the Philippines and China (APPCU) aims to encourage more people to join the effort to promote China-Philippines friendship between the two peoples and promote and further strengthen mutual understanding to overcome the differences between the two countries and peoples.
The APPCU is looking for people who have made efforts over time to strengthen ties and promote friendly relations between the Philippines and China. It also encourages Filipinos to help and engage in promoting Sino-Filipino friendship and mutual understanding.
The APPCU also pays tribute to those who have contributed to improving mutual understanding and consolidating the friendship between the two peoples, using their respective efforts in different fields and disciplines such as public service; Trade and commerce; and Arts, Culture and Sciences.
The Prize for the Promotion of Understanding between the Philippines and China (APPCU) was jointly established by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of the Philippines and the Association for the Understanding between the Philippines and China (APCU ).
The promotion and strengthening of the interpersonal relationships exemplified by the APCU as a form of public diplomacy is vital for the engagement and relationship building between the Philippines and China by facilitating the links and communication systems over which one can count, especially when tensions between the Philippines and China. two countries arise and when it is necessary to clarify the differences and conflicts of interest between the two countries at the local or interpersonal level.
The establishment and development of interpersonal bonds and bonds as a means of maintaining a healthy, strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries is indeed significant. Thus, it is important to recognize the vital role of different stakeholders like the APCU in contributing to strengthening the vitality of bilateral Philippines-China relations and supporting them in their activities.
It should not be forgotten that effective public diplomacy depends on strong and lasting people-to-people ties and links between countries.
This is the last part in a series of articles on the South China Sea dispute.
Megaphone diplomacy and the South China Sea
Philippines: Is the PCA running a paper tiger?