China, this is why

by Jose Ma. Montelibano

“Red Dragon – Soft, Grid, and Fill” | Photo by E V Peters via Flickr/Creative Commons

I would rather focus on importing community pantries and trying to more deeply understand the critical ingredients that made them suddenly burst into the open. Its explosion has been shocking even though its energy is not. It is like – what happened, why now and why only now, and what now? Such a powerful and noble manifestation of the best in us should not have distractions, only encouragement and support. But, sometimes, life sucks and throws in a wet blanket.

So, enter the dragon, China.

For the life of me, the China issue is really irritating, provocative, and a hate generator. It is not the Chinese, by the way; it is those who lead the Chinese people to where even they must take the heat and the hate.

We should not, I repeat, we should not hate the Chinese people. Many of us have Chinese blood flowing in our veins. If we take the DNA of Filipinos, I believe the great majority have some Chinese blood in them. Even just for that, we must not hate the Chinese people.

But the Chinese government – that is another story. I know that politics is local and that a large country such as China cannot help being drawn into the center of geopolitics. By its own hard work and determination, China has catapulted itself in blazing speed to become a super economy, a super military, and, unfortunately, a super bully.

“Shouldn’t they be, as the Philippines, too, be happy that a super economy and a super military of a neighbor is there to do buy from and sell to, to be the super protector of the region? Yet, the super everything chooses to be a super bully.”

Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and then India on the other side. These are all neighbors. Why are these countries all having a contentious relationship with China? Shouldn’t they be, as the Philippines, too, be happy that a super economy and a super military of a neighbor are there to buy from and sell to, to be the super protector of the region? Yet, the super everything chooses to be a super bully.

I do not know why so many gullible, or terribly biased, pro-China forces, even in the Philippines, keep mouthing the lie about China having no expansionist ambitions. There is that one-thousand-year history of China’s expansionist moves, sometimes successful and sometimes not. The point is, China is not beyond expansionism. It is so enamored with it that Deng Xiaoping had to make a pointed reminder to his own government and people not to fall into that trap. He knew China’s history, and he knew the temptation would come even as he led in a big way the rebuilding of China from the ashes.

Yes, expansionism was the way of the past, and Western countries were clear leaders of that mindset. Colonialism. There are no better models of grabbing territory in the past than the most modern and progressive democracies of the world today. I am not judging China without judging others. It was the way of the world then. If we keep turning back time, it was not less bloody or violent, either. But that was then, and now is. If we cannot move on and get over the most destructive of animalistic instincts, then we will be destroyed by them. Technology will see to that.

I belong to a very active batch of senior citizens who passionately honor the years we had spent together in one school. Many were classmates only for a few years, while some made it from Grade School to College in the same institution. Recently, out of exasperation and deep rage, I am sure one of us suggested that we take a stand against China’s bullying and island-grabbing of our territory. In no time at all, a statement was composed and signed by about one hundred of us. China, this is why.

We are all in our seventies. We should have no business railing against China when we have better things to do, and inside a runaway pandemic at that. Worse, when one looks at our eyes, they can see the Chinese influence on us. And our names, oh yes, our names, so many bear Chinese syllables that later were tweaked to sound more native or Spanish. We have no business aggravating our blood pressure to raise our voices and fists against China. But we are, and we will continue to do so until our voices are heard by more, and our raised fists will get many others to raise theirs.

When we ordinary Filipinos are destroyed by a bully, the bully sets the stage for its own destruction. The world does not like bullies who want to own the world. And the world will fight back as it always has. No empire lasts when it wants the world. None.”

When it is all so unnecessary, when all it takes is for China to be superior in so many ways without stealing our territory and bullying us, it can try to bribe us. I am sure many Filipinos have already been bought. But why does China have to trample us, degrade us, and take over our territories when it does not know what to do with its vast lands and seas? Is greed that rapacious? Is arrogance so blinding?

I accept that the Philippines is troubled by its poverty, even its amnesia of history, and tormented by the divisiveness that colonialism helped to drive deeper into our psyche. We have no worthy Navy and Air Force that can defend our waters and islands against the might of China’s military. Should we fight, many will die, maybe even millions. But only if we are not cowards. Only if we are not traitors.

But if and when Filipinos will fight and die in great numbers, the rest of the world will see that we are a proud people. Just like other people of other nations. They will respect our courage, and they will resonate with it. They will see that a bully can become bigger but not wiser, only greedier for more power and territory. And they will know they are next unless the bully is destroyed.

When we ordinary Filipinos are destroyed by a bully, the bully sets the stage for its own destruction. The world does not like bullies who want to own the world. And the world will fight back as it always has. No empire lasts when it wants the world. None.

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