To assess the existing dynamics of the Australia-Philippines bilateral relationship and help create a common understanding on the role of this partnership within the context of ASEAN and the Indo Pacific, the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) held a Mabini Dialogue titled “Australia-Philippines Relations and its Future for ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific” on 25 November 2022 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Carlos P. Romulo Library, DFA, Pasay City.
Providing her insights and expertise on the topic was Ms. Michelle Chan, Deputy Secretary of the Southeast Asia and Global Partners Group of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia. She underscored Australia’s deepening engagement with the region, stating that it wants to understand the concerns and challenges, and when necessary, call out atrocities being committed in the region. Ms. Chan emphasized the importance of the Philippines-Australia relationship and the value of sharing a common goal and working together to address regional concerns.
Elaborating on the bilateral relationship between the Philippines and Australia, she affirmed that the links between its people are its strongest asset. She also highlighted the defense and foreign policy objectives and cooperation in areas such as climate change, coral reef restoration, illegal fishing, cybersecurity and cyber-resilience, and the growing trade and investment between the two countries. Ms. Chan also discussed the defense cooperation on counterterrorism and maritime security, and Australia’s support for the peace process in Mindanao. Most importantly, she stressed Australia’s support for a strategic equilibrium that follows a rules-based order.
Ms. Chan also brought to fore Australia’s support to ASEAN in the challenge on Myanmar, and the efforts of the QUAD in working alongside ASEAN on issues such as access to COVID-19 vaccines and maritime domain awareness. With the Philippines and Australia having new governments and leaders, the two countries can work towards a common vision and together confront challenges facing the region.
Participants to the Mabini Dialogue were from the DFA, Foreign Service Institute, Australian Embassy, the diplomatic corps, and the academe.