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Boycotting China

Our pro-Japanese President should stop taunting China just to reassure us that we are making headway in our dispute with China.  Rather, as we persist in bringing our cause to the international forum, we are only adding humiliation to ourselves, not from the standpoint that we have no right whatsoever to our claim, but in our approach in bringing our cause to the international arena.    

We have pleaded our case before the Asean summit last April in Kuala Lumpur only to be rebuffed by the host country for inserting the issue which was not in the agenda; brought the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration which China has ignored; and now  wants to bring it before the Asian-Pacific Economic Council meeting without clarifying that the issue will only be discussed by us with those countries interested in listening to us.  

One must bear in mind that the state that has the capacity to enforce its interest is usually the one that is pushing the issue to develop into a crisis situation.   In our case, it is this country that is putting the pressure on China hoping that ultimately it would give in to what we want.   But everybody knows that the pressure is instigated by the US which is obviously not parallel to what we want to achieve.  This explains why China and many of our neighbors are askance at what we are doing.   We are acting like fools. Clearly, we are not behaving like diplomats; we are acting like shameless stooges.   

All the participating countries shunned the idea of discussing the issue because they had far more important  issues they wanted resolved in the conference, and tackling our dispute would not help resolve the thorny issues that confront them and in which China played a key role.  Even those countries that also had a dispute over the China Sea chose to avoid the issue because that could spoil their move to improve further their economic ties with China and to them that is far more important.    The only one who could not see that situation is our own President.  

Barely two days ago, the US and China held their annual Strategic and Economic meeting in Washington.  The conference was attended by a huge delegation headed by China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi.  Vice Premier Wang Yang said that. “Decision-makers of both countries must always remember that confrontation is a negative sum game in which both sides will pay heavy price and the world will suffer too.”  US Vice President Joe Biden said for his part that “(China) must be at the table to help set up a new “rules-based system” in a rapidly changing world.  There will be intense competition, we will have intense disagreements.  That’s the nature of international relations.” 

To clarify what that means, in its June 8, 2015 issue of Time, Foreign Affairs columnist and author of the book, “The End of the Free Market”  Ian Bremmer wrote: “While the US has made it clear to China that it will intervene in the East China Sea conflict if necessary - where it is treaty–bound to come to Japan’s aid – Washington has made no pledges to its partners in the South China Sea like the Philippines.”  This now has placed in an awkward position the war chant of the local lackeys to boycott Chinese-made products.  It is like telling them that they do not know what they are talking about, nor understand its implication.   Worse, they do not even understand that we need China more than China needs us. 

It is our own people that will be the first to suffer by our misplaced jingoistic cry.  While the pro-US and pro-Japanese operatives will be happy to see our relations deteriorate, statistical data will show that we have more to lose by our continued arrogance in taunting China.   Philippine exports to China as of December 2012 hit $746.82 million increasing by over 79 percent, thereby making China the biggest third market for Philippine-made goods next to Japan.  Goods imported from China reached $676.12 million in November increasing annually by 14.6 percent, making China the exporter of goods to this country. 

The residual effect is not so much that we will lose a sizeable market, but on its effect to a great number of our people.   They will lose their employment should this government join the fry by supporting those loonies campaigning to boycott Chinese goods.  Notably, many of the goods we import from China are consumer products that mostly affect the poor sector in our society.    Even if this government should recklessly decide to boycott Chinese products in a tit-for-tat retaliation for their re-enforced presence in the China Sea, that vacuum could easily be filled by our neighbors.  Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia and Singapore are just too eager to increase their trade with China.  Even if those rabid pro Americans who feel they would die if they are not able to buy US-made products are already buying US products though made and assembled in China, because they  themselves could no longer  afford to buy products directly made in the US.   

 As said, the US would not take the risk to recklessly fight for us unless its core interests are threatened.   It is only this wayward President of ours and his Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario that are pushing us into confrontation with China, and who knows, are conspiring with the US to heighten the tension to warrant the need to purchase those costly but second hand armaments that could never alter the balance of power in our favor.  For  our continued bellicosity, China might  just decide to  deport our 152,807 overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong that are receiving an average wage of $3,980 a month, and  we are not prepared to offer them an alternative employment. 

As this column has wrote many times before, it is wrong for us to pick a fight with China.   We can only discuss our differences with them from the point of view of what is  good to our national interest, and not to what is good for the interest of the US and Japan.    This column is not even saying we have to abandon our claim, much that China is not telling us to do that.   All that I ask is for us to enter into a peaceful dialogue without any precondition as they themselves offered it on a bilateral  basis much that it would be illogical for us to bring along a third party which territory is located across the Pacific Ocean.  

From there, we can explore what the late Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping suggested - that we jointly explore and develop the mineral resources in the China Sea setting aside in the meantime the issue of sovereignty.   Should we reach an agreement, it is understood that China is obligated to recognize our rights and status as  co-partner and co-owner just as we are under obligation to recognize China as our co-owner and partner in the area entitled to the same benefits that could be extracted there. 


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