Former Consul General to Toronto: ASEAN does not want to choose between the US and China

Ambassador Junever Mahilum-West in Toronto, Ontario. Via @FilipinosInCanada

Former Consul General to Toronto Junever Mahilum-West, now serving as the Assistant Secretary of the Office of ASEAN Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs, spoke with the Philippine Daily Inquirer about the 35th ASEAN Summit that will take place on October 30 in Thailand.


Duterte will be in attendance, marking his fourth visit to the country since becoming president.

The Philippine President will be accompanied by Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Department of Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez as well as other cabinet members.


Mahilum, who had served as the Head of Mission of the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, said that ASEAN believes that they should not be made to pick sides between the United States of America and China, fearing that it might jeopardize progress made between the two world superpowers.

The two largest economies in the world are fighting for influence in South East Asia, and the members of the regional intergovernmental organization don’t want to put any other countries in the awkward position of having to choose sides.


“I think ASEAN has its own agenda and issues that ASEAN always discusses in its meetings and the US-China rivalry might have a big impact on the summit,” Mahilum-West said in a statement.

“But it’s also clear that ASEAN leaders have stated that we should not be made to choose between the US and China because we have an active and growing cooperation with those two countries which we would not want jeopardize and that’s we invite them to the Asean meetings so that those relations would further grow,” Mahilum-West continued.

The Philippines will participate in the plenary, as well as the ASEAN Plus Three and the East Asia Summit, where Duterte and his fellow leaders are expected to speak about regional and international issues affecting South East Asia.

Leaders of ASEAN member countries, including the Philippines, are scheduled to have one-on-one meetings on the sidelines.

Duterte is expected to speak with the leaders of China, India, Japan and the United States to discuss the current state of each country’s relationships and how they can further explore opportunities to cooperate on matters of mutual concern.

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