Strategic thinking is a process of the mind where one thinks long term: view, assess, plan for the creation of a future for oneself or a community bigger than one’s self, for a project that is as small as a diary entry to an enterprise as big as building a nation to sending a mission to the moon.
The success of failure of a strategy, the product of strategic thinking, depends greatly on the information, knowledge, experience and the ability to correct as one goes along the way. IQ or basic intelligence may be fundamental, but so is smartness or savviness in dealing with realities along the way.
Filipinos are often described as the friendliest, most hospitable, most open amongst the peoples of the World, but never known to be among the intelligent or smart. A recent report in Esquire should shake up Filipinos: “The Philippines Is Dead Last in the Ranking of smartest Countries in ASEAN”.
One factor in the Philippines’ low smartness is the educational system, but probably more important is the Philippine media, print, broadcast and now social media. When stories like the Barretto sisters’ squabble is top story for days on end, we can’t expect much in the audiences’ learning curve.
One might think citing the Barrettos’ petty squabble as characteristic of Philippine media as being unfair and unbalanced, and point to the daily political fare in the front pages and top stories as matters of greater import. But actually our media’s treatment of political issues is more often the same as the Barretto sisters’ squabble where sensational scandal is the story and not the real issues.
It is for this reason I dub this column, which I hope to be a regular weekly one, in the CURRENTPH “Strategic Currents” for focus on the identification, elaboration and action on fundamentally important and longer term issues and prescriptions to meet challenges and resolve problems.
But there is one thing we have learned also in our decades of doing such strategic thinking and writing, like the giant among strategic thinkers that rebuilt China into the monumental success that it today, the later Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping we also need “To cross the river by feeling the stones”.
In this inaugural article I’d like to put a glare on the tiny city of Hong Kong (HK) that has since the 1970s assumed an oversized role in the global economic system. Today HK transforms into a geopolitical hotspot, that can threaten to upend the global strategic situation.
Two short sentence would sum up the history of HK: It was stolen from China after the Opium Wars in unequal treaties after China’s attempt to stop the British Opium trade in China. Then HK became super rich being the trade channel of China with the outside world constituting 27% of China’s GDP in the late 70’s.
One sentence sums up the current status of HK that is certainly the major reason for the turmoil and socio-economic and political bitterness of the destructive and secessionist minority in a rage of organized dismantling of the city before its final turnover to China in 2047: HK is now, in 2019, only 2.7% of China’s gargantuan GDP.
While for Filipinos today the only tangible and immediate concern in HK’s tumultuous developments is the impact of the on-going weekend violence and mayhem may be the safety and security of our 250,000 OFWs (primarily DHs) there and the disturbance in the DHs Sunday rest days in the parks, there are now concerns of potential “end of contracts” as the HK economy dives.
The broader and strategic concern for Filipinos is, however, not apparent to most people her in the Philippines (or even the world over), but this space has written a nine-page paper on this matter triggered by the impact of the HK issue on the NBA (National Basketball Association) falling out with China and the division in America represented by the Lebron vs. Morey clash.
Read more: The Hong Kong Siege and Asia
The destruction waged by the masked Black Shirted juvenile hard core trained by and funded from the U.S. and Britain, aided by Western led info war through algorithm-directed global social media, is part and parcel of the global containment plan that includes the pressure on Xinjiang, the Trade War and “Technology Apartheid” (as seen in the Huawei case) we see Trump maintaining.
Although China is now too big a success to be threatened in disturbance in HK, but it does not dissuade the U.S. and Britain from attempting to add to the pressure on China and hope that the many fires they are lighting, from Xinjiang to the trade war, and terrorism in HK, may somehow distract China from its inexorable rise as the top economy of the World in this 21st Century.
The danger for Asia is remote but potential contagion effect can exacerbate pressures on the Philippines as the Amboys (American boys) in the country continue to try to destabilize President Duterte with disinformation (such as fake “terminal illness” issues), of Thailand’s transition government and Cambodia’s Hun Sen, among others.
The Philippines has taken off on its second stage with China’s financial propulsion driving unprecedented growth of the country: lowest poverty level, China-PHL trade on top, 30% tourism growth led by Chinese arrivals, key infra hurdling final obstacles as Kaliwa Dam gains ECC, third telco on the way, two donated bridges 30% completion, P 175-B South rail to be awarded end-2019.
But one should never be complacent and in the case of the potential of contagion from HK I and my generation can recall, which we should share with the millennials as they are prone to being misled by social media disinformation, the malevolence of the West in the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis which crashed our Asian economies and financial systems.
Twenty-two years ago the Thai Baht, pegged to the US $ was subjected to currency attack by George Soros and eventually led to the devaluation of the Baht from B 25 down to B 56. The Philippine peso from P 26 down to P 56 to the US Dollar and growth crashed to zero. Though the HK Dollar is also pegged to the U.S. $ today but its $ 445.5 billion FX assets is solid, yet the turmoil sees no end yet.
The 21st Century has been dubbed the Asian Century as it is already a certainty that prosperity is and will continue to shirt to the East, and the U.S. in resisting the change and tugging at the E.U. to follow suit and thankfully the latter has not followed.
Asia and Asean will rise with China, and later with India when it picks up momentum and ensures a peaceful region in cooperation with China by resisting the U.S. enticements to align against China. The U.S. is making every effort to confuse and muddle the rest of the World to support the juvenile Black Shirt terror squads against the One Country, Two System transition to full integration.
The Philippines to ensure its own continued progress and growth, and in support of all Asia, must stand clearly behind the return of peace, stability and prosperity in Hong Kong.