Next-level diplomacy

US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit marked a historic moment in US-Philippine relations and signified a renewed trust between the two nations who have remained allies for decades-long.

Diplomacy is a complicated trait of leadership and remains a key element for each leader’s success. A curious characteristic of diplomacy is that it may remain as a choice or a tool for gaining a competitive or negotiating advantage. As such, it may work to the detriment of a larger group of people, although leaders will have to live with their decisions, may they be good or bad.

Diplomacy refers to the ability to work with different people with differing interests, to achieve the vision and goals set by your institution or company. It cannot serve to achieve a leader’s own goals since that would be politicking. A diplomatic leader understands how to get cooperation from fellow stakeholders, within or beyond the organization, and the ability to work with them, not around or behind them. An undiplomatic leader is an insecure person who shuts off any discussion to place his own interests above others.

President Bongbong Marcos Jr. has been exhibiting next-level diplomacy in the world of geopolitics. The Philippines has been advancing by leaps and bounds in the realm of foreign diplomacy with a President who appears to know what he is doing, having lived in childhood among parents who were global diplomats.

Who would have thought that the US Vice President, the second highest official of the world’s leading superpower, would spend three days in the Philippines, which included a side trip to the province of Palawan, the province at the edge of the West Philippine Sea where the disputed islands are located.

US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit marked a historic moment in US-Philippine relations and signified a renewed trust between the two nations who have remained allies for decades-long. Verily, this would not have happened had it not been for the support given by President Marcos Jr., who spent nearly a week in the US to attend the UN General Assembly last September.

The visit was perfectly planned and hit all the right spots. During her visit to Malacañang Palace, Harris was able to meet with her counterpart, our Vice President Sara Duterte. The Palawan visit was well thought of, despite it being down in Puerto Princesa at the eastern shore of Palawan, not at the western part, which would have been nearer to the disputed islands. The timing was commendable because two days prior, China-owned debris was recovered by Philippine boats, only to be forcibly intercepted by Chinese vessels. In her discussions, Harris was able to bring up women’s rights, nuclear energy cooperation (a BBM priority), and a dash of US politics with her statement that she will once again run alongside President Joe Biden for reelection.

The beauty of this visit is that it does not strain China-Philippines relations. President Marcos Jr. earlier met with China President Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit in Bangkok, and he is already scheduled for a state visit to China on 3-6 January. The Philippines’ history is intertwined with China, and this will never change. President Marcos Jr. will continue what was started by his predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte.

The art of diplomacy is beautiful and must be utilized by learned leaders. Our country is in the right direction when it comes to foreign policy and geopolitics. On the other hand, our inner politics — with the number of resignations, replacements, transfers that have occurred, and the difficult ability to hurdle the Commission of Appointments — are another story and deserve a separate discussion altogether.

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