Philippines-China: Quo vadis?

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2021 - 12:00am

Confucius once said, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” This simply means that it is our duty to refer to things accurately and see things as they are. Given that there are so many opinions on the Philippines-China relationship, it is worthwhile, and as George Siy of the Integrated Development Studies Institute says, to look into the possible models and clarify facts that will help us in our decision making through thorough understanding.

In making decisions, we usually turn to where the tide leads us and as George explains, there is no better time to replant than when the winds are strong as, after all, economics and opportunities wait for no one. We have learned from Vietnam how being war torn did not stop them from cooperating with the USA and China. They in fact became richer than the Philippines per capita and Hanoi’s first MRT, which was funded by China, cost $900 million. Indeed, Vietnam did not waste an opportunity.

In our webinar, entitled Philippines-China: Quo Vadis, opportunities that brought about huge benefits were cited, such as GM selling over 3 million cars in China, Volkswagen over 4 million cars and Tesla electric vehicles being number one in EVs in China and the point of such examples is to elaborate the competition in the race of development. Eastern and Western values have both their advantages and disadvantages – somewhat like a yin and yang, yet there seems to be great opportunities when these values merge. In other words, we learn from each other and combine our efforts.

Sadly in the Philippines we are encountering roadblocks in terms of our development which comes from our perceptions due to misleading news, fake news and a lack of perspective. In 1980, the Philippines missed out on Japan for manufacturing as well as the Hong Kong bid for Subic in 1990 and it is teaching us today to learn and make our own studies and not miss out because of our frameworks. The crisis in Europe has shown us how Greece, through a successful project in China, saved itself from bankruptcy and through the Piraeus Port, turned the Mediterranean into a trading center. It would have been great for mainstream media to celebrate “big” with such news.

Misinformation affects our chances of getting the best deals or the best rates in terms of development. We have also been quite rattled on China workers in the Philippines with the perspective on invaders instead of sources of incomes and opportunities. After all, tourism draws forth income, investments, friends and partners. The pandemic situation is a temporary situation, as George says, and we must still look at where the trends are going to be. We must therefore learn to look at things from different perspectives and the real challenge still remains in the deliberate misinformation. The right attitude is to be open with all and learn from all and this is the same mentality we can apply in terms of the issue on vaccines. It is good to note that a cluster effect transpired after China made investments in the Philippines. As a teacher, I am also elated to highlight that Filipinos have gained a wonderful opportunity as 30,000 Filipino teachers are teaching Chinese students from the comforts of their own homes.

All in all, we must learn to choose what is best for us by understanding the reality. It is our job to learn, to fact find and, most of all, to be open, as the Filipino’s powerful secret lies in time and evolution that equip us to focus on the most successful model for all.  Our learning institutions have great responsibility in cultivating the right skills that will help our learners appreciate perspectives while remembering that combinations make champions. Learning institutions carry forth the information needed for students to move this country further forward as they are the future decision makers. Therefore, if we can call a spade a spade, certainly, we can all learn to call things by their proper names. After all, and as Confucius also says, as the water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it, a wise man should adapt himself to circumstances.

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