A return to the glory of Asia before it was colonized

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

There have always been critics of The Asian Century. As expected these critics are from the Western world that once colonized almost the entire Asian continent. Asians, they think were properly subjugated. Not so fast, boy. We do not know why things happen as they do – in circles. A good example is the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. For myself, I think it will be a comeback for Asians who are great traders and innovators, given the chance.

But some Western critics are satisfied with the reasoning that because the West does not want to happen, it will not happen. That is a blatant presumption of their colonial thinking. 

A report from The Asian Development Bank on what can happen “Asia 2050” says otherwise. It says that Asia is in the middle of a historic transformation.

“ If it continues to follow its recent trajectory, by 2050 its per capita income could rise six-fold in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms to reach Europe’s levels today. It would make some 3 billion additional Asians affluent by current standards. By nearly doubling its share of global gross domestic product (GDP) to 52 percent by 2050, Asia would regain the dominant economic position it held some 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution.”

 Martin Jacques who wrote the international bestseller “When China Rules the World” was in Manila some years ago to promote his book. I visited London and over the phone he said that Senator Alan Cayetano was one of the sponsors which included the Philippine STAR etc. etc. 

 I remembered that because Duterte chose the right vice-president. They are of the same thinking that we will be better off if we latch our wagon to the Chinese horse.  

The full title of the book is When China Rules The World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order. With the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative that indeed could happen.

Since the first publication of When China Rules the World, the landscape of world power has shifted dramatically. In the three years since the first edition was published, When China Rules the World has proved itself to be a remarkably prescient book, and transformed the nature of the debate on China.

The book has been expanded with 300 pages of new material, backed up by the latest statistical data.

 Martin Jacques renews his assault on conventional thinking about China’s ascendancy, showing how its impact will be as much political and cultural as economic, transforming the world as we know it.

 It is good that former President GMA has pointed out that there was already a joint exploration among the Philippines, Vietnam and in her time. Everyone was talking about oil riches but what if there was indeed no oil. That was the way to go.

She accused former President Noynoy of provoking China and triggering the latter’s island building frenzy in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea. (Personally  I think he cannot think that widely or deeply) It was the Americans who set him up as their stooge and made sure he won the elections in 2010 through the Smartmatic-PCOS.

She cited how Aquino provoked Chinese displeasure and got it. Following advice from American advisers and their subalterns in government they contested China’s massive nine-dash line claim before the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague as if that would change things. Other claimants kept silent and followed the Deng Xiaoping formula of how to work together and build infrastructure. The next generation can discuss ownership.

Arroyo added that China “never questioned” the Philippines’ Baselines Law (RA 9522) during her nine-year term that ended in June 2010.

“China didn’t file a protest and they even recognized our 200-mile exclusive economic zone,” Arroyo emphasized, affirming Mendoza’s position that only two areas were being claimed by Beijing then – Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and Kalayaan Group of Islands.

 Being an economist, she said the thrust of her administration was steering the country to development.

“As far as China is concerned, we should be more focused on our economic relations and be able to transcend such issues,” she said. 

Trivia: On our last evening in Beijing we were told that we did not have to go out of the hotel. The best Peking Duck was in a restaurant in Grand Hyatt where we stayed but it was fully reserved.  

Our Chinese friend Lu said “Oh no, not Peking Duck again!” This time he brought us to a more modest restaurant the Tong Lai Soon where he said we would have an authentic boiled dinner which is different from what we know in Manila as hotpot. 

 This was a different hotpot. We think of hotpot as a huge shallow pan with stock to cook thinly sliced meats, mushrooms, tofu and vegetables. The hotpot he was talking about comes from the north and it didn’t use stock but just plain water.  The hotpot itself was the attraction. It was a cone shaped table cooker sitting on top of a bowl of water. This version of hotpot is delicious when eaten with the many sauces around the table cooker. 

 There was the usual soy sauce with Chinese parsley and chili and chopped onions but what I liked best was the sesame paste sauce. It was “peanut butter” in consistency but the peanut used was sesame. That night the only available meat was thinly sliced lamb. It was the first time I saw thinly sliced lamb of its different parts. It was soft meat bordered with fat. Watch the cholesterol I would say until I remembered it was my doctor who advised me the best prescription is “to be happy” – eat what you want. 

In a table next to us was a group of Buddhist monks who were eating the hotpot heartily. The Buddhist monks I met in Myanmar begged for their food from house to house. This group was paying. And before I forget the hotpot restaurant was incongruously conspicuous in a shopping mall surrounded with Western brands of merchandise. Quaint.

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