For decades, it was undeniable that our relationship with Communist China had not only been deeply entangled and as insoluble as a Gordian knot, but it has also been so speckled that judging it net positive or negative becomes a deeply debatable philosophical question.
Blurred in recent history by the emergence of China’s hegemonic and expansionist designs and bullying primarily over the West Philippine Sea (WPS), it was muddled further with the single-handed crafting of a pivotal foreign policy that dismissed if not outrightly denied history. Here is a military superpower that does not respect international courts tag-teamed with a diminutive dim sum openly entreating and kowtowing, slavering subservient and submissive.
The great debate and its deepest and widest chasm among the arguments and burning passions on both sides is evident in the diametrically opposing positions taken against the virtual invasion, occupation, dominion and control of our waters and exclusive economic zones. The only reason there is no widespread condemnation, where, in its place there is relative apathy, is because the high seas are largely unpopulated, and the teeming public is busy with immediate visceral concerns.
But the occupation is still very real. Recall the images of our small wooden fishing boats rammed while moored in the dead of night by larger steel-hulled Chinese ships. Picture our helpless fishermen abandoned and left for dead in the deepest and darkest waters. Remember those whose hard-earned catch were seized, stolen, their water supply, poisoned with kerosene, their dignity abused.
Who can forget an armada of over 200 armed Chinese vessels menacingly clustering in our waters blocking peaceful passage and livelihood? Who can forget the serial threats by the Chinese that we might face dire consequences if we do not abandon our rights to the precious gas and oil resources beneath Recto Bank? Who can forget how ranking carpetbaggers surrendered to those threats? Remember the headlines bannering a summary stop to further exploration upon the warnings of the Chinese.
Beyond the optics, allow us questions of profound illegalities. Who can forget the officials facing graft and corruption charges for bargaining off our sovereignty in a manner that exposes our precious resources to prospective foreign control hidden through sheets and curtains of layered equity?
At the start of an exiting administration that predicates a continuing legacy of not only recent precedents but also one spawned half a century ago, did we not acquiesce to criminality by allowing our communities to be turned into gambling havens illegal in China but legalized in our jurisdiction? To justify our lack of principles and fortitude, we reduced the debate to a question of revenues generated – arguments typical of a prostitute’s justification for the oldest profession.
In both politics and prostitution, the pursuit of money overwhelms any moral consideration. Money buys anything. Even a democracy. Or a sovereign state. The Lauriat is endless. We saw this recently during the last elections as we did in 2020 when the pandemic crossed over from China, jumpstarting one of the deadliest and most debilitating and impoverishing crises in modern history. Remember the Chinese nationals behind the Pharmally scandal? Remember also our purchase of the most expensive yet least effective Chinese-made vaccine.
Keep in mind the foreign policy pivot and its prospective perpetuity well into succeeding decades as a result of the recent elections and the role played by an army of mainland trolls. Diehard defenders of the pivot argue a different winner would otherwise have led to “servility to the U.S.” and reversed gains with China. Labelling China a pandemic “lifesaver”, they claim a different president would have “resuscitated” belligerence, expressed “hostility” and effectively “boycotted” China.
Quoting verbatim propaganda, “China would have slowly cut off its trade with the Philippines, which would have triggered an economic catastrophe.”
Note the ignored history and do the Math. Fil-Sino trade accounts for only 1.3% of China’s total.
It is not trading that China’s long-term expansionist designs seek. It is the geopolitical, economic, and military domination of the free-trade air and maritime routes over the West Philippine Sea. It is the exploitation of our vast marine, mineral, and energy resources, both actively producing and potentially explored.
Our United States naval intelligence sources confirm a hot war with the Philippines, much less one that is nuclear, is unnecessary. For access to the Malacca Straits, not one bullet need be fired save as a threat. No one wants a conflagration between the US and China. Play the game of Go. For the Chinese, to dominate, purchasing a de facto puppet vassal suffices.
In lieu of an unnecessary invasion or a shooting war to occupy and govern over 7, 101 islands, all that is needed is the wholesale purchase of an effective vassal state, its serfdom and subjugation bartered and bought by buying off its heads of state, its bureaucracy, its economic managers, and its crony captains of industry.
At the end of a short leash, on the insides of a cheap canine collar worn by our officials might then be sewn a label “Made in China”.
(Dean dela Paz is a former investment banker and a managing director of a New Jersey-based power company operating in the Philippines. He is the chairman of the board of a renewable energy company and is a retired Business Policy, Finance and Mathematics professor.)
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.