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Rough Cuts | Is China aiming to control the Philippines?

Last Wednesday a neighbor-farmer of ours in a Tugbok district barangay in Davao City asked us rather innocently if China really intends and could succeed in taking the Philippines under its control.

We knew that his question was borne out of his lack of understanding of the dynamics of geopolitics and possibly of his apprehension on the statements that had come out from various individuals and organizations who, or that are not in accord with the Duterte administration’s dealing with China on the West Philippine sea issue.

So, in order not to add to his fear and confusion we told him that as far as we are concerned China can very well conquer the Philippines if it wants to. We added that our northern neighbor is a giant not only in size but also in terms of economic wealth and military strength and hardware.

That is, we further told our neighbor farmer, if that country really intends to gobble us up. But the question is, “Does it have such hegemonic ambition?”

This neighbor of ours further said that as far as his understanding of the various news reports that came out in broadcast stations some of which are read from local and national publications, it appears that the Chinese are pre-positioning themselves for their final move to take over our country. He proceeded to mention about the various military installations in some islands in the conflicted West Philippine Sea, and of late, the report of planned conversion of three strategically located islands in our country into tourist destinations complete with air transport facilities.

We told him that honestly we feel his fear has no basis; that it could just be influenced by opinions of some people and news media editors and organizations, the latter mostly earning their keeps from funds emanating from sources with specific motives on global issues.

Besides, we calmed him down by saying that China need not use its military might to invade and control the Philippines. Even now, we told our farmer neighbor, we are already very much under the control of the Chinese – economically, that is.

He was quick to question us, how has this happened and why are we saying our country is already under Chinese control.

To give him a much-easier-to-comprehend explanation we demonstrated the case of Davao City. We cited to our friend farmer that in Davao most giant malls, department stores and large heavy industries are owned by Chinese who just become Filipino citizens by virtue of birth and “procured” Immigration “blessings.”

We further told him that although some of these establishments’ owners are more Filipinos in deeds than some of us blue-blooded Philippine natives the fact remains that they are Chinese whose roots are from China and could not just abandon ties with their mother country and their culture.

And what has these large commercial and industrial establishments in Davao got to do with the Chinese in control of the Philippines? Our neighbor dared ask us. Well, we told him, that in Davao City’s list of 10 or even 20 top taxpayers it is the Chinese-owned establishments that are dominant. And this is not only in terms of business taxes but in real property and other tax payments as well.

We also hastened to tell him that in terms of intra-business operations like patronizing utility services as power, water, and telecommunications these Chinese-owned establishments are the biggest consumers.

For example, in electricity consumption alone records at Davao Light show that Chinese-owned malls’ power bills average between P20 to P25 million a month. From this patronage the power firm has also become a consistent top taxpayer in the city. So are these businesses’ water bills that could possibly proximate or may be even larger monthly than that of their power consumption.

We also explained to him that these Chinese-owned and controlled businesses are also very much into computerization. Therefore, they could have the insatiable demands for more sophisticated telecommunication services and talents. And their firms are the most labor intensive in this part of the country.

What if, by design, these Chinese-owned establishments fold up and move their operation to some other countries less critical to them and the country that they had their roots? How much of Davao City’s revenue will be lost directly from these companies, and from the businesses that these have sourced their power, water and other operational needs.
The businesses of the service suppliers will definitely become collateral damage, and so are their capabilities to pay the taxes that they had been paying until the supposed “flight” of the Chinese firms.

Yes, if such tact is to be part of China’s grand design to control the Philippines without even firing a single bullet resorted, how easily can that giant and powerful neighbor bring the Philippines down on its knees.

And such move will not even invite intervention from other countries that act like they are the international policemen!
But will China do an armed invasion to the Philippines? Will it ever think of influencing its nationals who have lived their lifetime in our country and made their fortunes here and are now calling themselves Filipinos, to sabotage our country’s economy for China’s expansionist desire?

We do not think so; not until we become so enamored with the David and Goliath biblical story and our leaders think we are the David of modern times.

Yes, we told our neighbor-farmer friend that the Philippines’ relation with China can only be as ideal as our government’s and people’s comportment with our neighbor. As in labor-management relations negotiations always bring benefits to both parties than confrontation.

Thus, we told our friend, like neighbors the better approach to avoid conflict is open and honest communications instead of insinuations and innuendos against each other.

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