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Great power politics. Sort of.

Enrique A. Manalo

Enrique A. Manalo

The Philippines wants closer military and commercial ties with Canada as a means of balancing its position in the world – particularly between the United States and China. The country’s foreign minister, Enrique Manalo, hit up Washington, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver in April and May as the Philippines seeks to move beyond the “great power” rivalry that marked the Cold War era.

Canada launched its Indo-Pacific Strategy in 2022 and has since experienced a tough go of things with China and India. Since it kicked off, India kidnapped two Canadians and was found responsible for the extrajudicial killing of a Canadian on domestic soil. But Manolo says as far as the Phillipines is concerned, relations between it and Canada have “really grown in the past two years.”

Now the challenge will be for Canada to navigate growing its relationship with the Philippines without further alienating Beijing, which has a tense relationship with Jakarta, or straying too far from US geopolitical goals. With Canada’s foreign policy goals less than realized in recent years, these will be rocky shoals to traverse. Canada must balance its core relationship with the US and its secondary relationships with regional partners while managing relations with growing powers such as India and China with whom it shares strategic goals, such as trade and climate action, but against whom it often competes on security.


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