PHIL-CHINA WATCH

By Herman Tiu Laurel

“The world is entering a decade of tumult as the pursuit of a more just world order clashes with the arbitrary hegemony of the collective West...” Russian President Vladimir Putin is quoted to say at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club held from Oct. 24 to 27, 2022 in Moscow.

US President Joe Biden earlier in the month had invoked “Armageddon” referring to the prospects of the Ukraine war turning into a grim nuclear scenario as the West and Russia exchange charges of raising the nuclear option and Ukraine is accused of plotting a “dirty nuke” false flag.

However, President Xi Jinping in his opening speech for the 20th CPC National Congress said, “China has always been committed to its foreign policy goals of upholding world peace and promoting common development, and it is dedicated to promoting human community with a shared future.”

A few weeks later, Xi in a message to the National Committee on US-China Relations said, “As major powers, strengthening communication and cooperation between China and the US will help to increase global stability and certainty, and promote world peace and development...”

Xi added that China was “Willing to work with the US to give mutual respect, coexist peacefully... (and) find ways to get along in the new era”. The new era is what Russian president Putin described as the “more just world order clashes with the arbitrary hegemony of the collective West...”

China and Xi have consistently persevered to extend the olive branch to the US throughout the past decade of intense almost daily provocations conducted by the US and its allies to goad China into anger and rash responses, but China as a mature civilization maintains equanimity.

China has provided and, from all its latest words and deeds the world witnesses, continues to send out the beacon like a lighthouse beam across the murky, stormy firmament guiding all ships-of-states battling the rough seas to land on shores of calm and peace at the end of this decade.

China’s peace victories in 2010s

Despite the coming years’ seemingly intensifying turmoil and despair, China appears to be demonstrating a rise in confidence to weather the inclement climes and continue its shepherding of hostile, antithetical forces towards that elusive peace and tranquility among all nations.

No doubt, China’s many victories in the past of the 2010s have helped boost its current sense of self-assurance. China had surmounted the first challenge to its peaceful rise in 2011 when President Obama announced the “Pivot to Asia” to contain China by shifting 60 percent of US military forces to Asia.

Obama had coaxed its client state Japan and the Philippines to create provocations, first the nationalization of the Diaoyu (Senkaku in Japanese) Islands from private Japanese possessors, and second the Philippine arrest of Chinese fisherman with a naval ship leading to the Scarborough Standoff.

Through deft diplomacy and maritime actions, China pressed its point without provoking any physical clash while pressing the issues of sovereignty, prevailing in the court of global opinion and winning the “lawfare” and information war through adherence to international law and dialogue.

Trump stepped up the offensive, launching the China trade war only to see the US trade deficit with China minimally changed after 5 years. In 2018, “chips war” started with tariffs on Chinese microchips quickly escalating to massive sanctions, yet US today backtracks on many of its restrictions.

Geopolitically, the US started the QUAD to rope in India into the anti-China coalition, but by 2022 India has started falling out due to US-Pakistan and Russian oil issues. In 2021, the AUKUS alliance was announced but economic crises may have already sunk the nuke sub deal before it starts.

Let’s not forget too China’s peaceful victory over the violent Hong Konger protesters funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), as well as the triumph over Western slander of the human rights record of China in Xinjiang as the UN dismisses the “genocide” allegations recently.

In geo-economic terms, the pandemic crisis impact and the US and West’s self-inflicted economic debacles due to its “sanctions war” against Russia and resulting oil-gas, food crisis has setback Western recovery while China returns to positive growth and pushing forwards despite strong headwinds.

With such good fortune on its side China can be optimistic and beam with hope that it can inspire the rest of the warring states and suffering nations to see the bright side of the future is peace, stability and growth is the focus of all nations in the “new era” of the “Community of Shared Future”.

The Philippines in the world peace crusade

The Philippines has not shown clear-cut relative to the global peace initiative of China and the rest of the peace-loving nations of the world. The official government line today echoed by top officials of the land may be “Friends to All, Enemy to None” but in practice is this really true?

It should be clear to all enlightened observers of the global scene and history conscious citizens of the world including Filipinos, that there are forces practicing the geo-economic policy of “Forever Wars” for profit and for hegemony. To be a friend to these is to be an enemy of mankind desiring peace.

Aristotle stated that friendships are often based in utility, pleasure, and/or virtue. The first two are the most common... grounded in emotion. The latter friendship based on shared virtue is the truest, because it relies on a mutual appreciation for what is held dear, and that today is Peace for Mankind.

The Philippines cannot declare it is a friend to all while it is arm-in-arm with the United States of America staging military exercises at the tip of Cagayan province in Northern Luzon aimed at intervening in a Taiwan conflict. Friendship to all is an oxymoron in such a case, as China would see it.

Yet China extends true friendship seeking the economic growth of the Philippines through mutually beneficial trade and development, dialogue and compromise of any differences, forbearance in trying times, jubilation over common virtues, never forcing any party to choose sides.

Instead of compliance with the West and the US desire for tension and eventual war the Philippines, if it wishes to be a true friend of the United States should advice the US to end its quest for more wars-for-profit and hegemony, join the Philippines and China in global disarmament and unity.

Ambassador Huang’s peace initiatives

China’s Ambassador Huang Xilian is President Xi Jinping’s direct representative to the Philippines, and he has been doing a yeoman’s job of carrying on the improvement of Philippines-China ties through the years since December 2019, at the time Covid-19 was discovered by Chinese scientists.

I remember in the first quarter of 2020 that the Philippines started sending China some aid to help in the early Covid -19 crisis in Wuhan, particularly the cash donations led by FFCCCII President Henry Lim Bun Liong sent to China through Ambassador Huang Xilian.

China has returned the favor tens of thousands of times in donations of over 5 million doses of vaccines in 2021 plus over 50 million doses of vaccines in ”global public goods” prices that has saved millions of Filipinos from severe Covid illnesses and even lives.

Huang recently joined President PBBM in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Duterte-Xi initiated USD350-million 4-km Davao-Samal Connector bridge project, the latest in a string of China-donated or funded bridge projects such as Estrela-Pantaleon and Binondo-Intramuros bridges.

The significant Western economics magazine The Economist recently published a major story entitled “The Chinese Century is Well Underway”, leaving little doubt that even the West recognizes the inevitable ascendance of China to the top of the economic pyramid of the world.

China is not crowing but constantly repeats that it “does not seek hegemony” and recently, to repeat, President Xi after the triumphant 2010s decade and the 20th National Congress, extended his hand of cooperation to the US again addressing the National Committee on US-China Relations

“As major powers, strengthening communication and cooperation between China and the US will help to increase global stability and certainty, and promote world peace and development,” telegraphed his message to Biden ahead of a possible sideline meet at the G20 meet in Indonesia.

The Philippines must openly help China in its crusade for global peace instead of cavorting with what UN Millennial Alliance co-founder Jeffrey Sach calls “the most violent country in the world” since the 1950s. The Philippines must true-up its “friendship” by distancing from war and linking only with the virtues of nations.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Office of the Press Secretary.

About the Columnist

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Herman Tiu Laurel is a veteran journalist and founder of think tank PHILIPPINE-BRICS Strategic Studies.