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  • Topic: Spratly Islands, South China Sea, Southeast Asia
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THE IMPLICATIONS OF CHINA’S NAVAL MODERNIZATION AND GROWING PRESENCE IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA ON PHILIPPINES-CHINA RELATIONS A PHILIPPINE PERSPECTIVE

By
Martin S. Adalem III
Tom Lance G. Angeles
March 2013

INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
China’s economy is currently the second largest in the world. With its continued economic growth and development, some people believe that there is a possibility for China to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy. However, because of its rapid growth, many countries are starting to question China’s increasingly significant role in the international world order, as well as its impact on regional and international peace, security, and stability. This is primarily due to the fact that in line with its economic growth and development, China has also been increasing its defense budget and modernizing its military capabilities. China understands that in order to safeguard its national interests, it needs to build a stronger national defense. According to China’s National Defense in 2010, China is pursuing a national defense policy which is defensive in nature. (State Council Information Office [SCIO], 2011a) This defense-oriented policy, according to the white paper, is “determined by China’s development path, its fundamental aims, its foreign policy, and its historical and cultural traditions. (SCIO, 2011a) Specifically, the white paper states that:

“China unswervingly advances its reform and opening up as well as socialist modernization, making use of the peaceful international environment for its own development which in return will contribute to world peace. China unswervingly pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and promotes friendly cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China unswervingly maintains its fine cultural traditions and its belief in valuing peace above all else, advocating the settlement of disputes through peaceful means, prudence on the issue of war, and the strategy of ‘attacking only after being attacked.’” (SCIO, 2011a) More importantly, China assures the rest of the world that “it will never seek hegemony, nor will it adopt the approach of military expansion now or in the future, no matter how its economy develops.” (SCIO, 2011a) Furthermore, China defines the goals and tasks of its national defense as follows: (1) to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and interests of national development; (2) to maintain social harmony and stability; (3) to accelerate the modernization of its national defense and armed forces; and (4) to maintain world peace and stability. (SCIO, 2011a) China’s national defense policy is in line with its chosen path of development. According to China’s Peaceful Development, a white paper issued by the Chinese government, “China has decided upon peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation as a fundamental way to realize its modernization, participate in international affairs and handle international relations.” (SCIO, 2011b) However, it is important to note that because of the recent flashpoints in the South China Sea, particularly involving the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries, some countries believe that China becoming more aggressive in pursuing its territorial claims in the area. Importance of the South China Sea

The South China Sea is a vital area of interest for both China and the Philippines. One reason is because the coastal sub-regions bordering the South China Sea are home to five per cent of the world’s population, a population which is predicted to increase from 475 million in 1993 to 726 million in 2025. (Gao, 2005) This means that as population rises, the dependency on the South China Sea for resources and transportation also rises, making the area of great importance to the countries bordering it. In addition, the South China Sea is a “unique and integral eco-system and a repository for...
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