A natural pivot from the pivot
One of China’s and the world’s greatest leaders, Deng Xiaoping, once told the United Nations assembly in April 1974: “If one day China should change her color and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression, and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it, and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.”
Many articles in the past, including some written for this paper, have cited this quote as China bullied the Philippines in the West Philippines Sea. I am certain that writers and nationalists in many other countries and economies in Asia (Taiwan most especially) and Africa have found it fitting to also quote Xiaoping as China wantonly wreaks havoc in many governments and economies just to pursue its selfish interests often related to accessing resources it needs on its insatiable desire to become the greatest nation on the planet and satisfy its huge population. Many have often said, the leaders of China fear only one thing—the wrath of their people should they turn against them. Hence, aside from limiting the rights of its citizens, China’s communist party has always brazenly used its weight and resort to whatever means to get what it wants from weaker nations. This brings to mind what former senator Miriam Defensor Santiago once said that China exported corruption to the Philippines.
Now don’t get me wrong. I write this piece today because I view with sadness and frustration the fact that America has now gained access to four military bases in the country, committing to foot the bill to upgrade these bases. Once upon a time, with thanks to advocates for genuine sovereignty and regional peace as well as the Mount Pinatubo eruption, United States bases were kicked out of the Philippines. With no help from China, we helped further the vision of a nonaligned Asean by asserting our sovereignty and choosing not to be part of the superpower races. And what does China do? Behave exactly the way that the West’s intelligence agencies and military establishments said they would once the US presence in the region is weakened: become expansionist, take back Taiwan at any cost, and control the weak democracies in the region.
What makes me even sadder is that I now fully and totally support the directions of President Marcos for stronger ties with the US, including stronger military presence. In his dialogue with US President Joe Biden early this month, he said, “it is only natural for the Philippines to look to its sole treaty partner in the world to strengthen and to redefine the relationship that we have and the roles that we play in the face of those rising tensions that we see now around the South China Sea and Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific.’’ He added that “geopolitical issues that have made the region where the Philippines is possibly, arguably the most complicated geopolitical situation in the world right now.”
Indeed, it is only natural. What exactly did Beijing expect us to do after it built a military island in the West Philippine Sea? How did they expect our country and its leaders to react to flotillas of Chinese ships chasing away our fishermen, warships preventing navigation in our own economic zone, and fighter jets buzzing both civilian and military aircraft? And what, pray tell, do they expect from the Philippines and Japan as the Chinese military harassed Taiwan every single day?
Mr. Marcos responded naturally. And Filipinos including this one, as well as the business community, are cheering him on. But, hey, America, before President Duterte and his pivot to China, you virtually shut the door on your longtime friend and ally. Do forgive many of us who will accept your kindness and generosity with a grain of salt. Having said that, you actually owe us the reported red carpet treatment afforded the Philippine delegation recently and much more. I understand that a US business delegation is forthcoming. We look forward to welcoming a serious delegation that will ink sustainable Philippine-US business partnerships!
Peter Angelo V. Perfecto was former executive director of Makati Business Club, works with the Phinma group and chairs Oxfam Pilipinas. Email: [email protected]
Business Matters is a project of Makati Business Club ([email protected]).
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