Ang See slams ‘Sinophobia, racism’ over Chinese students

Nillicent Bautista - The Philippine Star
Ang See slams �Sinophobia, racism� over Chinese students
This file photo shows the building of the Commission on Higher Education.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Civic leader Teresita Ang See has branded as “dangerous and unfortunate”what she described as the Sinophobia and racism that emerged amid reports on the influx of Chinese students in Cagayan.

“The past days’ preoccupation with deliberate fanning of Sinophobia and racism by politicians and media spreading baseless whodunits of ‘students as spies’ is dangerous and unfortunate,” Ang See said at a media forum over the weekend.

“Politicians, opinion makers, our military and police scramble to ride on the issue without checking the facts,” she added.

Ang See also called out the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for saying that there was a “significant number” of Chinese students at St. Paul University in Tuguegarao without providing context.

She pointed out that St. Paul University is the only education institution authorized by CHED and the Bureau of Immigration to accept foreign students.

She also noted that contrary to circulating reports that there were 4,600 foreign students at St. Paul University, only 486 were enrolled.

“The baseless and deliberate fanning of negative news on ‘influx of Chinese students’ serves only to exacerbate the ongoing geopolitical tensions arising from our maritime conflict with China,” she said.

The civic leader also claimed that it was “not a coincidence” that the issue came on the heels of the tripartite summit among the United States, Japan and the Philippines or the Balikatan exercises being undertaken.

“Negative news like the exaggerated influx of Chinese students are further churning the waters into a potentially dangerous tsunami,” Ang See said.

“Truly, conflating geopolitical tensions with racism and Sinophobia has no part in our civilized Christian society,” she added.

‘Reason to worry’

But for Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the influx of Chinese students in Cagayan is a reason to worry or ask questions while there are other universities or colleges in different parts of the country that offer quality education.

“The Chinese nationals who are studying there in the province of Cagayan. Of course, we can’t get those thoughts out of our minds. Maybe, what is that? Our national sovereignty might be in danger,” Estrada, who chairs the Senate committee on national defense, said.

“You know, many foreign students come here to study. Not only the Chinese nationals. Many Koreans are also studying here in our country. But if the number or influx of them is only in one or selected place, there is a reason for us to worry or ask why only in one place. Because we have many quality universities or colleges in different parts of our country,” he added.

The senator also questioned the concentration of visiting Chinese students in Cagayan, one of the sites of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.

“So the only question is, is it a coincidence? Right? Like other foreign students, we should not hinder the desire to study here with us. But we must also make sure that it will not be a threat to our security. This is not only a matter of education, our national security may be in jeopardy,” he said.

“This is not about discrimination or racial profiling. The interest of our country should prevail here. And the many issues that are emerging, such as degrees for sale, retiree visas and giving government issued IDs to Chinese nationals are also worrisome. This should be focused on and investigated by those concerned, maybe even the Senate, if necessary,” he added.

On the insinuation that Chinese nationals are being singled out, Estrada explained that he could not blame those expressing concern following “the tension that is arising right now because of what is happening in the West Philippine Sea.”

“Of course, we can’t get rid of that thought,” he said. – Cecille Suerte Felipe

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