MANILA, Philippines – With the lifting of the “Iron Curtain,” a term coined by Sir Winston Churchill, the thawing of the Cold War, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the world stands in awe at the military might of the United States and the phenomenal emergence of China as an economic power.

A new world order is in the making, led by the United States and China, in the company of has-been empires such as France, Britain, Germany, and Japan, and a sprinkling of ambitious middle-states with nuclear capabilities.

In the celebrity-studded State Banquet hosted by US President Barack Obama for President Hu Jintao of China on the latter’s first state visit to America, the statements of the two heads of state dwelt on the need for greater cooperation, improving human rights issues, and more candid dialogues on economic and currency policies.

While nothing extraordinary was expected in the Hu state visit, except to maintain their civility and closer consultation, the fact is that US and Chinese national interests will diverge and widen as China grows in stature and power.

It is in this context that tiny states, such as, the Philippines must think more profoundly, strategize more wisely, and navigate intelligently in a global society dominated by economic and military behemoths.

It is for these reasons that developments and upmanship between the US and China are critical for the Philippines owing to its strategic location as differences between the two giants inevitably widen into open conflicts.

From a survey of eminent writers and authorities on world affairs, the general sentiments appear to be “(1) the rise of Asia will define the era; (2) the gulf between America and China will widen as their national interests become more pronounced; (3) emerging powers and states, including democratic ones, and “nonstate actors,” such as terrorist organizations, will make cooperation and integration more difficult; and (4) the United States’ influence will be undermined if the US does not curb its unsustainable dependence on debt.”

It is vitally important that President Benigno Aquino III start showing interest and concern with international geopolitics and appoint and encourage greater strategic thinking and long-range security and economic programs for the nation, whether it be military, food security, or waltzing with the powers, that is the United States and China, that are both keenly interested in the strategic location of the Philippines.

President Benigno Aquino III must be aware that the Americans are taking the Filipinos for granted and show very little attention and respect for the Filipinos while China appears to be like a young, aggressive, and ardent suitor for a long-term relationship with the Philippines.

To conclude, it has been said that empires rarely come about by design; they grow organically; and may spread across the South China Sea.