Lorenzana warns superpower rivalry in Asia could lead into another war
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana warned that superpower rivalry in the region could possibly lead to war, along with a greater fear.
"Our greatest fear, therefore, is the possibility of sleepwalking into another international conflict like WW1 (World War 1)," he said in his speech during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last weekend.
"What we are dealing with is not only a shift in the material balance of forces in our region, but also in our very conception of the emerging regional order ? and, respectively, the anchors of peace and prosperity in the 21st century," Lorenzana said.
"The consequence of such seismic geopolitical shift is a troubling form of ‘superpower rivalry’, which has now extended, to the anxiety of many in the region, even to the realm of trade, investment and cyberspace," he said.
"If left unchecked, this new and perilous dynamic could potentially upset ‘globalization’ as we know it. With the untethering of our networks of economic interdependence, comes growing risk of confrontation that could lead to war," he added.
"If there is anything that modern history has taught us is that war can happen, even when no one desires it -- or finds it undesirable," he added.
Lorenzana said avoiding war is everyone's shared responsibility.
"It is of paramount importance that we, as the principal actors in the Indo-Pacific region, do our best to manage tensions, avoid conflict, and reduce the chance of reckless miscalculations," he said.
"And this is where it’s crucial for us, all of us, to continue institutionalizing, upgrading, and expanding a whole range of Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs), which could help major powers find an optimal set of mechanisms for conflict-avoidance. War benefits no one. Avoiding it is everyone’s shared responsibility," Lorenzana noted.
"In the view of the Philippines, confidence building measures should be comprehensive, covering all relevant military, para-military and civilian actors with direct stake in regional peace. This is most especially important in potential flashpoints such as the South and East China Seas, where the risk of miscalculation and unwanted conflict is rising on a daily basis, as great powers expand their military footprint and pursue divergent visions," he added.
Lorenzana also expressed support on freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.
"What we should all agree on, however, is that freedom of navigation and overflight in global sea lines of communications is indispensable to regional peace and security," he said.
"In our view, no single power should exercise unilateral control over vital arteries of global trade, such as the South China Sea. We need to collectively protect our global commons," he added. Robina Asido/DMS