by Xinhua writer Luo Jun
BEIJING, May 9 (Xinhua) -- For whoever wins the Philippine general election on Monday, improving the people's well-being is undoubtedly a top priority, and that effort would be unnecessarily harder without a healthy relationship with China.
As the world's second largest economy, and the No. 1 trade partner to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which the Philippines is an important member, China has made remarkable contributions to the development of the dynamic region, consisting of mostly emerging economies.
With the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) breaking ground with new projects, and the gradual gathering of momentum by the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road program, part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, promising new opportunities are presented for regional countries including the Philippines.
Unfortunately, over the past six years, under President Benigno Aquino's rule, the Southeast Asian country has increasingly fallen under the influence of warmongers in Washington and Tokyo, while achieving little in real benefits and progress for its people.
Respectively seeking "re-balance towards the Asia-Pacific," a strategy widely interpreted as a move to contain a prospering China, and the expansion of military power, the United States and Japan have made a use of unresolved territorial disputes in the South China Sea as a perfect excuse to create tension and insert their meddling hands.
The Philippines' role in the once peaceful region, in the eyes of hawkish politicians in Washington and right-wing extremists in Tokyo, is clearly just a pawn, as they are only interested in enthusiastically pushing for military bases and arms sales to the country.
Aquino was naive to believe that he could use Washington and Tokyo's influence to gain an upper hand over China in the South China Sea, as China is a sincere partner of dialogue and cooperation in the region. Meanwhile, the meddlers will be delighted to see grudges and confrontations, even though they are at the cost of the Filipinos.
It was also a serious strategic misjudgment for Aquino to distract ASEAN from focusing on economic and social development with bilateral disputes, which creates unnecessary division and hinders the regional bloc's essential task.
Manila could have its voice better heard through a strong and independent ASEAN, while being a puppet of Uncle Sam and trying to manipulate the bloc will definitely be unhelpful.
With solid plans like the Belt and Road Initiative and the AIIB aimed at regional cooperation, development and integration, China has proved by action its true aspiration for win-win cooperation and common prosperity.
It is highly advisable for the new administration in Manila to see clearly who is their true friend, and to join Beijing in dialogue and cooperation to tackle their disagreement, thus safeguarding peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific.