Why are we so craven?
The deliberate, despicable “hit and run” attack on the Philippine fishing vessel Gem-Vir 1 by a Chinese boat in Recto (aka Reed) Bank—which the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 had ruled to be within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone—demonstrates exactly how the Chinese government deals with its “friends”: Treat them like dirt, the law be damned, because they’ll come around anyway.
But that’s our fault, really. On the one hand, President Duterte says we can’t win against China. On the other hand, Foreign Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin tells us to fuck the international community because it can be bought, and that we have to rely on ourselves. So, if we can’t rely on the international community and at the same time we can’t win against China, where does that leave us? Well and truly fucked. That’s the message China hears from the mouths and writings of our own government leaders.
It’s really an open invitation for China to do whatever it wants with us, and we will welcome whatever it dishes out. And what do we get in return? A few pieces of silver: money for our infrastructure projects, given with onerous conditions, which our government vigorously defends. I know, they’ve promised us more—much much more (something like $25 billion).
But should we trust their promises? They promised us they would not build anything on the West Philippine Sea. They did, and continue to do it. They promised they would move out of those islands when we did (I think it was Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc); but when it came time, we kept our promise, and they stayed on. We can’t even fish there anymore without their permission, it seems.
For some reason, the Duterte administration still seems to trust them—enough to enter into negotiations for joint exploration of natural resources in our territory. Enough to tread lightly on illegal Chinese here, who are taking over certain pieces of territory—just look at certain neighborhoods in Makati or in Parañaque. There is always a justification, of course—like we have to be cautious, because we also have illegals in China.
And we, the Filipino people, with few exceptions (Albert del Rosario and Conchita Carpio Morales) have accepted this behavior.
Contrast this with the behavior of the people of Hong Kong—against the seemingly similar abject acquiescence of their government to the dictates of their mainland masters. The Hong Kong legislature is in the process of passing a law that essentially gives way to mainland China in the matter of the judiciary—it will allow extradition to the mainland in certain cases involving Chinese nationals and even residents of Hong Kong.
That has caused tremendous outrage in Hong Kong, whose people apparently suspect that this is but another instance in which China is pushing ahead with its nefarious objectives, constantly testing the people’s mettle. A million people went to the streets in front of the Hong Kong legislature to show their anger. Since the population of Hong Kong is approximately 7.5 million, that would be the equivalent of some 14 million Filipinos going to the streets to demonstrate—the entire population of Metro Manila, and then some.
The people of Hong Kong did not stop to think about China’s ability to flick them off like flies. They have been victims of China’s machinations—after all, China promised them direct suffrage in electing Hong Kong’s chief executive, and then reneged. They know that China cannot be trusted farther than they can spit. And they are pushing back in the only way they know how, even without arms.
And at least Taiwan is receiving their message loud and clear. The president of Taiwan, always leery of China, is telling his people to look at Hong Kong, and think of Taiwan. China wants a “one country, two systems” setup with Taiwan, too.
So if the Chinese themselves (outside of China) are looking at China with a jaundiced eye, shouldn’t we learn from them? If they think the only way is to push back and get public opinion on their side, why are we so craven?
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