Being Right

BACK in June 2014, China’s State Council published the “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System.” The idea was to create a ratings system determining the political reliability of individual Chinese citizens.
The dystopian aspect is obvious: “people with low ratings will have slower internet speeds; restricted access to restaurants, nightclubs or golf courses; and the removal of the right to travel freely abroad.” Furthermore, “scores will influence a person’s rental applications, their ability to get insurance or a loan and even social-security benefits. Citizens with low scores will not be hired by certain employers and will be forbidden from obtaining some jobs, including in the civil service, journalism and legal fields, where of course you must be deemed trustworthy.” (“Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens,” October 2017, Wired)
Perhaps one reason why (according to the Bureau of Immigration) there are reportedly three million Chinese nationals who entered our country since 2016. In the first half of 2018, almost 800,000 Chinese entered our borders. Many have taken property leases within the Metro’s business areas and supplied loans to the public and private sector.
However, consider as well that we have reportedly (as of 2014) 1 million illegal aliens, with (as reported by this year) around 100,000 Chinese nationals who illegally entered our territory.
Finally, consider that it only took 129,435 Japanese troops to invade the Philippines back in 1941.
The legitimate question, of course, is why pick on China? The answer in a few words: Kalayaan and Bajo De Masinloc.
Under the present Trump administration, the United States Department of Defense (albeit working obviously for US interests rather than for the Philippines) has taken a keen interest in the Pacific trade routes. It recently sent a report to the US Congress. The following part is pertinent:
“China continues to exercise low-intensity coercion to advance its claims in the East and South China Seas. During periods of tension, official statements and state media seek to portray China as reactive. China uses an opportunistically timed progression of incremental but intensifying steps to attempt to increase effective control over disputed areas and avoid escalation to military conflict. China also uses economic incentives and punitive trade policies to deter opposition to China’s actions in the region. In 2017, China extended economic cooperation to the Philippines in exchange for taking steps to shelve territorial and maritime disputes. Conversely, a Chinese survey ship lingered around Benham Rise in the spring after the Philippines refused several requests from China to survey the area. Later in the spring, CCG boats reportedly fired warning shots over Philippine fishing boats near Union Bank. In August 2017, China used PLAN, CCG, and PAFMM ships to patrol around Thitu Island and planted a flag on Sandy Cay, a sandbar within 12 nm of Subi Reef and Thitu Island, possibly in response to Manila’s reported plans to upgrade its runway on Thitu Island.”
Economically, many here have also been seduced by China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project. The problem is, not many actually know what it is. Like the 9 Dash Line, the Chinese have been deliberately vague about it.
But as the Washington Post’s Adam Taylor reports (“Why countries might want out of China’s Belt and Road,” August 2018), the OBOR is “not a single thing, but rather a catch-all term for investments in more than 60 countries around the world.” “In practice, it usually involves getting foreign countries to take out large loans from China to build vast infrastructure projects, which are then typically built by Chinese companies.”
The catch is that all of it “is quite obviously in China’s interests.” It also “sometimes made no economic sense.” Malaysia’s and Sri Lanka’s experiences are good case studies.
Correlate that with the Pentagon’s above-cited report of China’s strategy to “develop strong economic ties with other countries, shape their interests to align with China’s, and deter confrontation or criticism of China’s approach to sensitive issues.”
So it is unfortunate that we expended so much hatred, at least rhetoric wise, towards our long time ally (albeit one-time colonizer) the US. At least with the latter, we share the same system of government, values (particularly human rights, democracy, and the rule of law), and history.
To paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt, the US may be a bastard but at least we know this bastard. But China?
To be independent is not to toady to another country (whether that be the US, China, or whoever) but rather to conduct ourselves such that we advance our interests, values, and beliefs.
The irony is, with evidence of impending social, political, and economic upheaval in China, further rendered vulnerable by Trump’s “trade war,” we may have sacrificed our constitutionally mandated “independent foreign policy” to favor a country that may not be very helpful to the Philippines at all.
Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.

Twitter @jemygatdula