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Incoming Security Adviser Carlos eyes 'critical engagement' with China

Incoming National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos on Thursday said the Marcos administration will pursue a "critical engagement" with China amid the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Interviewed on GMA News’ Unang Balita, Carlos said she and President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. discussed the country's relationship with China during a meeting on Wednesday.

“You mentioned the magic word ‘critical,’ yan ang isa sa mga napag-usapan namin ni President Marcos kahapon [that is among the topics that I discussed with President Marcos yesterday],” she said.

“Yes, critical engagement with China would be the way to go and President Marcos already noted it will still be enhanced on all levels,” she added.

In a separate interview on Super Radyo dzBB, Carlos said critical engagement involves creating a holistic framework considering all aspects—political, economic, social, cultural—in the country’s relationship with China.

“Ang ibig sabihin ng critical engagement ay kailangan mong limiin lahat ng political, economic, social, cultural aspects ng relationship mo sa China,” she said.

(Critical engagement means you need to pay attention to all political, economic, social, cultural aspects of our relationship with China.)

“Kasi yung mga iba, tinitignan lang yung economic, tinitignan lang yung defense o military, ito gagawa ka talaga ng holistic framework,” she added.

(While others are only looking at the economic, or defense or military aspects, with critical engagement, you will create a holistic framework.)

Carlos clarified that this approach will be also used with other countries.

According to her, Marcos Jr. mentioned an enhanced relations with China. The operational components of how it would be done are up to the incoming president, she added.

Asked about the supposed bullying of China in the disputed territory, Carlos said the next administration will continue the talks.

“Dalawa lang naman ang alternatibo mo (You only have two alternatives): You continue to talk or you go to war. I am sure the other alternative hindi natin option yun (is not our option). We continue to talk,” she said.

Carlos' nomination to be the next NSA was announced on Wednesday. She will replace Hermogenes Esperon Jr., a former military chief of staff.

A former University of the Philippines professor, Carlos said she accepted the offer to be Marcos' NSA because defense, security, and foreign policy are her areas of research and expertise.

Marcos had earlier lauded Carlos for her knowledge in foreign policy and international politics. 

On Tuesday, China's Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said differences with the Philippines regarding claims in the West Philippine Sea can be managed with "bilateral consultation and friendly communication."

"We are two neighbors who have some differences, but what is crucial is the way and manner we handle the differences,” he said during the turnover of various broadcast equipment donated by China to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

“We need to manage our differences with bilateral consultation and friendly communication," he added. —KBK/RSJ, GMA News