Sinophobia — imagined or real?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-05-08
Who’s afraid of an emerging China?

Many Filipinos fear China. Even our AFP is reluctant to even think of tangling with China.

And we’re not alone — the West likewise finds itself afraid of China’s rise. China’s unstoppable ascent will deal an ironic twist to the West. Once the bully, Anglo-Saxon (US-UK) domination and the sins it had committed in the past must now reckon with fulfilling a truism that what goes around, comes around.

Filipino Sinophobia was influenced by American anti-Chinese propaganda, which was at its height after the Chinese drove the US and its allies back to the 38th Parallel during the Korean Peninsula War.

But when then US President Richard Nixon relaxed foreign relations with China in a policy called Détente, the world saw the real face of China and its people. The world’s fear turned to sympathy for China and its people. It turned out that China was an economic laggard in the mid-70s.

It was common then for Chinese migrants and refugees to pour in droves into the Philippines, seeking to build a better life here. In the 1950s to the 1970s, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) had their hands full hunting illegal entrants from China and Taiwan.

Today, Filipinos are lining up to work in China. The Chinese who now come over are mostly tourists or investors. No longer a fugitive from the BI, they are warmly received by the departments of trade and industry and tourism.

A former Singapore Ambassador to the UN, Kishore Mahbubani, wrote a book (The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Power to the East) about a Chinese-led emerging Asia which he believes will overtake the West. Mahbubani’s thesis about the emerging Asia was featured recently in BBC Hardtalk hosted by Stephen Sackur (Just log on to:

Mahbubani noted the marked rise of the East just as the West is now continuously sliding. In China, Mahbubani noted that in the last 200 years of China’s history — the last 30 years have been the best for the Chinese people. Compared perhaps to the 50 percent growth of the West during the Industrial Revolution, Mahbubani pointed out that growth in Asia during the last 30 years was something like 10,000 percent.

The BBC interview noted the present state of the US and China economies — the US at around $12 trillion and China at $5 trillion. However, Mahbubani said that 20 years ago China was only at the $200 billion mark.

He notes that the West maintained a policy of interference in the affairs of other countries as compared to the East which manages by and large to forge regional cooperation. Interference, of course, is a sure sign of insecurity and fear of being overtaken.

He makes this assertion despite the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, Vietnam’s sortie in Cambodia, the China-Vietnam border friction, the ASEAN effort with the West to ask Vietnam to leave Cambodia, China’s influence over North Korea and Burma/Myanmar, China’s conquest of Tibet, Pakistan’s hand in the Indian Kashmir unrest and so forth.

Mahbubani calculates that Asian countries would develop economically first before we all see a dawn of democracy. He said that even US democracy was not developed fully in 1776. Per Mahbubani, it took the US 100 years to free the slaves, 150 years to give women the vote and almost 200 years to establish civil rights.

Mahbubani credited the West for abolishing torture — one of the greatest developments of mankind he calls it — only to be the very ones currently employing it.

In an earlier separate interview with The Globalist, Mahbubani noted the flaws in US foreign policy. “Why does it take America so long to reconcile itself with its erstwhile enemies — or adversaries? As a people, Americans are among the most compassionate and forgiving. Individual Americans are big-hearted. Yet, as a polity, America is one of the most unforgiving countries in the world,” Mahbubani was quoted in The Globalist.

He warned: “America’s relations with the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world are clearly in trouble. If America is not careful, its relations with 1.3 billion Chinese could be heading the same way.”

He justified his optimism about China with: “Based on well-rehearsed statecraft for over 2,000 years, there is a great deal of accumulated wisdom within the inner sanctums of Beijing — similar to the political years within the walls of the Vatican After more than 100 years of anarchy and misrule, China has finally amassed the best governing class it has seen in generations.”

Asked what country in Asia would worry him, Mahbubani replied: “The Philippines. Feudalism is still deeply entrenched in that country. This may also help to explain why it is struggling to develop — even though it is the only country to have been colonized by America for 50 years.”

Up to 1965, we were the second best economy in Asia. Now we cannot even be mentioned with the countries which will make the Asian century. Nothing could be a stronger condemnation of the failed leadership of our country.

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