Maritime and Regional Security in the Asia Pacific
This forum served as a platform of exchange for policy discussions with experts from several ASEAN countries and Germany.
Among the speakers featured in the policy discussions were Prof. Sebastian Bersick of Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, Germany; Dr. Eduardo Araral of National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; Mr. Kwa Chong Guan of Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies; and Dr. Jay Batongbacal of the U.P. Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea.
The topic of the morning session was the economic and political dimension of maritime security.
Prof. Dr. Sebastian Bersick, Chairman of International Political Economy of East Asia at the Faculty of East Asian Studies, Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum, Germany, was giving a complex overview on the political and economic circumstances that led to the current maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea/ South China Sea, as well as an outlook on the possible future of the regions concerned. The Vice Dean for Research and Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Dr. Eduardo Araral, continued the discussion by analyzing the special relations between the United States and China. This first session was followed by an open forum wherein guests were able to participate and ask speakers more specific questions.
During the afternoon session, Mr. Kwa Chong Guan, Senior Fellow of Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Dr. Jay Batongbacal, Director of the U.P. Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea, discussed the evolving changes in the Asia-Pacific regional security environment. Mr. Kwa focused more on the long cycles of Southeast Asian history in order debate the current and future security in the Asia-Pacific. Mr. Batongbacal highlighted Southeast Asia’s special role as a nexus of interests and several external factors that have been influencing the security in the concerned areas.
Further this session was followed by policy discussions with Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta of De La Salle University, Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo of the Magdalo Party List, Dr. K.S. Balakrishnan of the University of Malaya, and Mr. Chito Sta. Romana of the Philippine Association of Chinese Studies. Among the issues discussed include the need for cooperation among the countries in dealing with the current maritime security issues and the need for the Philippines to provide an institutional anchor to its national security strategy.
The significant link between the economic and security aspects of maritime issues in the Asia-Pacific have been stressed in this debate. The forum made the dynamics of the current maritime security issues more comprehensible. Hence the speakers outlined the role of various factors, especially the importance of the external ones, and stressed the need to understand the countries’ positions in terms of the oceans and stewardship of marine resources.