As China rises, where do we fit in?

December 27, 2018

BEFORE proceeding, here’s one big ‘Congratulations!’ to B/Gen. Jose Faustino, the new commander of the 10th Infantry ‘Agila’ Division, Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) of the Phil. Army.

Admittedly, I don’t recall having met this gentleman before, dear readers, although I learned that this ‘product’ of the PMA’s ‘Maringal’ Class of 1988, is also a proud officer of the elite ‘Scout Rangers’ and has spent his early years in the service in the jungles of Luzon, which, until the term of PGMA, is the “bulwark” of communist strength and power in the country.

But there has been a ‘power shift’ insofar as the armed rebellion by the CPP-NPA is concerned, dear readers.

“Yesterday,” from the time of Marcos to PGMA, it was Southern Luzon -- Southern Tagalog -- to be precise, but since the term of Noynoy Aquino and PDU30, it is now Eastern Mindanao, the Davao region to be precise.

In other words, Gen. Faustino, having done his ‘tour of duty’ in both of the country’s troublesome islands, is assuming his new command with the necessary experience in dealing with the communist insurgency and, probably, with the awareness that it is in his new AOR (area of responsibility) comprising the Davao region, where the “future” of the communist insurgency will be decided.

As the CPP-NPA’s “last bastion” in the country, it is in Eastern Mindanao, the Davao region, to be specific, where the last major military campaign against them is going to happen.

Thus, here’s our wishing ‘good luck’ too, to Gen. Faustino, who seems to be another officer “in a hurry” given that only last month, he is the Phil. Army’s ‘Chief of Staff.’ His taking over the helms of this illustrious division is certain to earn him another star on his shoulder board.

But aside from plotting and planning on how to write ‘Finis’ to the communist armed rebellion, I am sure that Gen. Faustino is also mindful of the names of other illustrious military commanders who came before him in the command, some of whom, of course, are yours truly’s good friends until now, such as:

Lt. General Jorge Segovia, Lt. General Leo Baladad (both retired as EMC commanders), MGen. Raffy Valencia and of course, DILG secretary and former AFP chief, Eduardo Año.

And as if trying to give Gen. Faustino a “clue” of things to come from his adversary, as I was writing this, I got to read the news that the CPP-NPA in Compostela Valley just “embarrassed” him by staging an ambush on Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of the CPP and just four days after his assumption last December 22. Talaga rin naman, hehehe!

* * *

This month of December is also “significant” for China as it celebrates two important events -- the 40th anniversary of the “opening and reform” of China under Deng Xiaoping (December 18) and, the birth of the founder of ‘Modern China,’ chairman Mao Zedong (December 26).

But while there now seems an unexplainable “policy” in the Communist Party of China (CPC) to “downplay” the commemoration of Chairman Mao’s birth (I read that a student from Peking University was “arrested” on Wednesday during a public display of celebrating his birthday), the CPC leadership is going out of its way to celebrate the success of its “reform policies” that has now made China the second biggest economy in a span of one generation (40 years).

Indeed, I also got to read in the Internet that Pres. Xi Jinping, last December 18, even “invited” personalities from all over the globe to Beijing to give recognition to them for “helping” turn China from one of the world’s poorest countries into today’s global powerhouse.

China’s rise of course, has also caused a mixture of “emotions” from all corners but mainly, “xenophobia” from the ranks of the capitalists West, the United States included and also, from its neighbors here in Asia.

And why not? For hundreds of years too, most people view the Chinese as a “weak race of people” good only for all sorts of menial jobs and China itself, as a “playground” of Western Imperialism.

Especially for the West, what really is now getting into their nerves is that they can no longer “bully” China, one glaring reality today that even US Pres. Donald Trump must have found both surprising and irritating.

Adding to the West’s irritation is that China has been beating them consistently in the “game of capitalism.” And China is doing this by abiding by the rules the imperialist bloc themselves laid out under the GATT-WTO. Indeed, ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ continue to puzzle the world.

As China continues to rise, it has made clear that its “opening up” policy would remain, highlighted by its willingness to also open up further its own market. As Pres. Xi Jinping said during his speech last December 18:

“Reform and opening-up is a great reawakening of our Party, one that nurtured great creativity in both theory and practice for our Party. Reform and opening-up is a great revolution in the history of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation, one that propelled a quantum leap in the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Last November 1, China announced tariff cuts on 1,800 goods to mark the launching of the China International Import Expo (CIIE), and President Xi announced that China will be buying 2-trillion dollars worth of goods from the rest of the world every year, and 40-trillion dollars in the next 15 years.

Then on December 24, China announced tariff cuts for another 700 imported items.

The question for the Philippines now is, “Where do we ‘fit in?’ Saan tayo dito?  Hindi ba dapat kasali tayo dito?

The “potential” for Philippine-made goods in the Chinese market is certainly there. In the CIIE, I gathered that Philippines exhibitors sold twice more than its goal, taking home 124-million dollars in goods and services.

Given that we have only “recovered” our friendship with China with the start of the Duterte Administration in 2016, we should not waste time.

If the result of our participation in the CIIE last month is to be the barometer of how trade between our countries is to develope further (hopefully in our favor this time), we should even act ‘double time.’

During his state visit to the Philippines last month, Pres. Xi called for “practical cooperation” between the two countries “to cement the foundation of China-Philippine relations.”

Insofar as yours truly is concerned, the most “practical cooperation” we can have with China is thru trade -- and more trade, as this simply means more jobs, more economic opportunities and yes, more food on the table.

China is just about ready to take on the mantle of global leadership away from the West.

And it would be stupid of us if we continue to be left behind in the progress this leadership would bring in its aftermath because we continue to be firm in sharing the xenophobia against this rising power held by our former colonial masters.