There’a a saying that “The sun never sets on a Chinese restaurant,” which only underscores not just the size of the Chinese population that has permeated the rest of the globe, but also the sheer industry and creativity of that proud race—from its cuisine to its historical conquests—that have preceded its reputation across the Far East and beyond.
Anyone who’s bothered to read Gavin Menzies’ controversial “1421: The Year China Discovered the World,” must at least concede to its bold plausibilities, not the least being that “only China had the time, money, manpower and leadership to send such expeditions and then sets out to prove that the Chinese visited lands unknown in either China or Europe.”
That’s a mouthful to digest, especially these days when we’re all uptight about our President dissing Washington and curling up with Beijing. After all, not a few of us have been enamored of the West and her smooth Hollywood ways, judging by the unabashedly post-colonialist memes and messages one stumbles upon across the internet, e.g. a photo of a can of Spam versus one of Mah-Ling.
If it were just that, a clash in culinary preference, such sentiments would have been forgivable. Yet, the nuances of diplomacy on the international stage, involving two of the world’s superpowers, should brook no simplistic arguments. Duterte may be brash, perhaps even to a fault. But even his detractors must accede to at least one truth, if grudgingly: he’s no pushover. To spew venom upon the pinstriped characters inside the proverbial Beltway, to taunt a longstanding “ally” by openly courting a rival economic giant, and to dress down even the EU and the UN—all these do not make for a politician mired in naivety.
On the contrary, the Land of Fu Manchu, as what America may have now labelled China for its warm reception to Little Brown Duterte, has stepped up to the Philippines’ diplomatic challenge. Forty-nine agreements—count them—make up a joint statement between the two countries at the height of the President’s state visit that ended yesterday. These provisions cover the spectrum of national interests from peace and security, education, sports, agriculture, science and technology, combatting crime, trade, and tourism, among many others.
Twenty-four billion dollars. That’s about the size of grants, investment pledges, and affordable credit we’ve managed to secure out of that one visit, all geared, according to a finance department source, towards promoting inclusive growth.
It isn’t, then, so much as ditching the West Philippine Sea dispute and throwing in the towel, if some quarters are still carping over that claim.The July Hague ruling, it ought to appease them, remains an important diplomatic leverage for Malacañang. But as with the Spam versus Mah-ling analogy, it’s more than just what it seems. For there is more, much more at stake for the Filipino as the Orient’s crimson sun truly sets upon this impoverished land.