12:09 AM October 4th, 2016
WHY IS President Duterte bent on sleeping with the wrong “enemy” (China), and insulting an old ally (America) which can help us deal more effectively with our big northern neighbor that reportedly undermines human societies through the dangerous drugs it manufactures and smuggles worldwide?
He himself has told the media a number of times that “the real drug lords are not here—they are in China.”
An exposé of the extent of China’s global “drug war” (read: part of Beijing’s asymmetric warfare against America) was highlighted by the New York-based Epoch Times last month. In what is tantamount to a reverse “opium war” which rapacious Western nations waged against China in the 19th century to soften up its people by weakening its moral fiber through the highly profitable opium trade, Beijing “has been illicitly supplying huge amounts of synthetic drugs and methamphetamine (shabu) to Mexican and Latin American drug cartels,” the journal said.
People close to Mr. Duterte, such as Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, say that behind his folksy persona and incendiary rhetoric lies a deep “strategic thinker.” Academics like Clarita Carlos and Richard Heydarian commend his strong, savvy leadership.
If they are right, why is there a glaring disconnect between certain aspects of the President’s domestic and foreign policies? Briefly, why is he a roaring lion against those who oppose him (here and abroad) and a surprisingly quiet lamb toward China, where the drugs originate, and which continues to squat on vast areas of our 200-mile exclusive economic zone, despite the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that invalidates Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea?
The disconnect is crystal when one considers the following:
While the President obviously sees China as a great power destined to replace America’s declining superpower status, the realities on the ground say otherwise. China’s gleaming cities, high-end industries, ports, and First-World infrastructures are located on its narrow prosperous coasts. What few see is the other side of China beyond that crescent of prosperity, where a billion people still live in impoverished conditions and have to make do with less than $3.50 a day.
With the European Union shattering, triggered by the terrorist threat and the exodus of refugees from war-torn Middle Eastern countries, combined with a stagnant US economy still recovering from the 2008 crash of Wall Street, China, whose export-driven economy depends largely on the EU and US markets, has been hit very hard. The result? Economic dislocations such as stocks and real estate bubbles, ghost towns, shuttered malls, rising social unrest, resurfacing regional animosities, and soaring debt caused by stimulus packages to perk up the economy. The marked slowdown in the economy prompted even China’s second richest man, real-estate billionaire Wang Jianlin, to warn of the “biggest bubble in history.”
Such gloomy developments are bound to undermine China’s ambitious economic diplomacy, led by its multibillion-dollar “One Belt, One Road” projects.
So, is it really worth it to cozy up to China at the expense of our deep ties with America, which also happens to be our second largest export market? And which helps keep our economy afloat through the remittances of three million Filipinos living there? The mandarins are masters in strategy and tactics, and their hallmarks are stealth and illusion. The most President Xi Jinping will do—and appear generous in the process—is to allow Filipinos to fish again at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. China will never give up its illegal occupation of areas within its “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea because it considers it vital to its national security.
And what is the heavy price we have to pay for getting a few Chinese-funded projects and being allowed to fish again in our traditional fishing grounds? Not to venture beyond our 12-mile territorial sea and thus violate our Constitution’s mandate to protect the Philippine EEZ, which is far larger than our land area (and may contain immense riches in energy, food, and minerals)? Downgrade our military ties with America?
Consider the dark clouds now hovering over Europe and Asia, reminiscent of conditions that preceded World War II: the Eurasian landmass seething in a cauldron of interacting crises. Even a layman could argue convincingly that the United States would be the least affected by this gathering global storm and thus remain, in the foreseeable decades, the most stable and powerful country in the world because its diversified, resilient economy has only 13 percent exports vis-à-vis GDP, and two of its largest trading partners are its neighbors, Canada and Mexico.
America is also geographically blessed, having two of the world’s largest oceans as buffers from invaders—barriers that have shielded it from the two global land conflicts that ravaged Europe and Asia.
If the future will shine much brighter on America than on China, why should Mr. Duterte jeopardize our relations with it? Isn’t it far better for our country’s wellbeing and future to improve our relations with China without losing our old friends?
Narciso Reyes Jr. (email@example.com) is an international book author and former diplomat. He lived in Beijing in 1978-81 as bureau chief of the Philippine News Agency.
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
China Says It Will Help Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte With His War On Illegal Drugs (Who Knows More on Extrajudicial Killings and Torture than China?)
Lesson for The Philippines: Gains from Thailand’s bloody war on drugs proved fleeting — Extrajudicial approach to the drug problem “killed a lot of people, some innocent, but did not stop the drug use”
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST Funeral parlor workers lift the body of one of the two drug suspects who were killed in an alleged shootout with police in Barangay Bonuan Tondaligan in Dagupan City on Monday. RAY B.ZAMBRANO/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON
Photo: Philippines — Dead bodies pile up after President Duterte Calls For Open Season On Drug Criminals
Philippines: President Duterte “Names Names” of Philippine Police “In The Drug Trade” — But Chief Superintendent Edgardo Tinio says he’s innocent and angry at Duterte’s public humiliation and trial by publicity
Tags: Beijing’s asymmetric warfare against America, bribery corruption, China, China will tolerate human rights abuses, China's economy, China’s economic diplomacy, drug war, Duterte, energy, food, illegal drugs, methamphetamine, minerals, nine-dash line, Panama Papers, Panatag, Philippine EEZ, Philippines, Scarborough, shabu, South China Sea, surprisingly quiet lamb toward China, the real drug lords are in China, U.S., Xi Jinping