Herman Tiu Laurel / Phil-BRICS Strategic Studies / July 30, 2020
When U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston last July 14, 2020 on allegations of “espionage” no proof was ever presented. This has been the pattern of all U.S. allegations against China, be it intellectual property theft or unfair trade practices – evidence doesn’t matter and no formal case is ever filed in the proper forum.
As U.S. media gets fed-up with Trump and Pompeo’s repeated “cry wolf” stories, many have been showing their utter skepticism. The Washington Post headlined, “’Trump’s China policy has no strategy – except to boost his reelection campaign’… U.S. officials are describing the Houston consulate as a nest of espionage activities, though they have offered no evidence to back that up.”
The Intercept of Glenn Greenwald, famous partner of whistleblower Edward Snowden, reported “’Was the Chinese Consulate in Houston Really a Hotbed of Economic Espionage?’ … the Trump administration has provided little evidence beyond broad statements… connect the dots, then you can see where its’ headed. The U.S. government has been playing this card since Trump came into office.”
The playing card the Intercept referred to was the “blame China” card, actually a U.S. modus operandi since the early 2010s on the East and South China Sea issues and now transformed by the Trump administration into a public relations and election propaganda strategy since April when Trump’s disastrous coronavirus crisis mismanagement needed a scapegoat and diversionary issue.
This is the smoking gun: Washington Post reported in April, “A new Republican strategy memo advises Senate candidates to blame China for the coronavirus outbreak, link Democrats to the Chinese government and avoid discussing President Trump’s handling of the crisis.” So it is all just from a memo on and nothing about the truth or facts about China.
The New York Times headlined in April, “A Key G.O.P. Strategy: Blame China.” Trump called COVID-19 “Kung Flu” and now transmutes it to “blame China for everything” and frequently invents new reasons to blame. Like the latest move of Secretary Pompeo reversing U.S. neutrality in South China Sea now pledging support to claimants against China and doubling warship deployed in the region.
That is the cynical game of U.S. electoral, campaign and geopolitical politics – totally bereft of sensible, rationale basis and oblivious to the damage the world suffers from such turmoil, confusion and destabilization. While China continues countless constructive initiatives to help, donating $2-billion to WHO, medical aid to Bolivian indigenous peoples, advancing to Phase 3 clinical trials of its “global public good” vaccines, supporting global economic recovery among money others.
Unmasking a Trojan Horse
The long prelude above reviews U.S. political and information war against China. It prepares us now for the unmasking of a Trojan Horse in our Philippine foreign affairs bureaucracy and media who is double timing as an official of the Republic of the Philippines representing the country while serving as propagandist of another country.
I am referring to none other than Philippine Star columnist and concurrently Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babes” Romualdez who disrobes himself in his recent article in the Philippine Star entitled “Deteriorating US-China relations: How did it come to this?” that displays his un-journalistic, uncritical, ill-informed views -– an echo chamber of American “Blame China” propaganda in short.
Here is my point-by-point reply to Romualdez:
- “US prosecutors charged two Chinese nationals for engaging in alleged hacking activities against many US companies … to steal information about Covid-19 research”;
Reply: As in 5G, China is ahead of the U.S. in many fields. In February the US CDC sent out Covid-19 test kits that failed causing deadly testing delays while China’s success in contact tracing and test is undisputed. The world’s top medical journal The Lancet reported on July 20 that “Phase 3 vaccine developed by Chinese researchers underway,” hence China has nothing to steal from the U.S. The two indictments referred to are in absentia and apparently mere propaganda;
- “China could have been more transparent regarding the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan;”
Reply: China had been prompt, and transparent from the very start. From Reuters of January 25, 2020 “Trump: U.S. Appreciates China’s ‘effort and transparency” and quotes Trump: “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The U.S. greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency…”, Trump changed his tune only when he needed a scapegoat to divert attention;
Timelines released by China and WHO gives clear evidence that no cover-up ever happened; US CDC Robert Redfield admits being briefed by Chinese health officials January 4, 2020.
The hyped story of “whistleblower” Dr. Li Wenliang’s social media post of the unknown virus December 30, 2019 was preceded on December 27, 2019 by Dr. Zhang Jixian’s report to medical authorities. On December 31, 2019 WHO China Country Office informed of new, unknown virus.
- “Majority of Americans are squarely blaming China for coronavirus pandemic – fueling racial hatred…”
Reply: The majority of Americans also swallowed the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) yarn of President George W. Bush to start the Iraq War – later admitted to be fake news. The “blame China” had long been in the background became official Trump campaign line and widely spread by U.S. mainstream which Americans lap up.
- “… ‘the current situation between China and the US is something the Chinese side does not want to see’ indicate that the Chinese are also careful not to further aggravate the tension;”
Reply: China’s attitude to the tension is typified by its reply to trade war threats, “China does not want a trade war, but is not afraid of fighting one.” Chinese FM Wang Yi in his latest July statement said, “China’s US policy remains unchanged. We are still willing to grow China-US relations with goodwill and sincerity.” It’s the US that starts fights, China wants to trade. Romualdez does not denounce the U.S.?
- and 6. “Analysts say Chinese officials also do not want to see US-China relations deteriorate even more since it could leave China ‘even more isolated,’ and more countries are speaking out against the controversial National Security Law in Hong Kong;”
Reply: In the UN Human Rights Council meet in Geneva early this July, 53 countries supported China’s Hong Kong National Security Law while 27 criticized it; on China’s Xinjiang policies 54 countries supported China while only 23 countries led by the U.S. criticized it. 50 countries in Germany’s Dalia Survey said China handled the coronavirus better than the US while only 3 voted in favor of the U.S. — Who is getting isolated Mr. Romualdez?
- “… at the Richard Nixon Library in California, Secretary Pompeo called on free nations to rise against Chinese tyranny;”
Reply: In the German Dalia survey 2020 reported by Bloomberg on June 27, 2020 under the headline “China Is More Democratic Than America, Say the People” only 49% of Americans believe their country to be democratic while 73% of Chinese consider China to be democratic.
Since I reviewed the Dalia survey myself, I should add that 87% of the Chinese people believe their government serves the majority of the people while 52% of Americans believe their government serves only the small minority.
- to 12. Romualdez states that he is “dumbfounded why China had to resort to aggression as it could have leveraged its economic power to become a global influence… instead of resorting to provocative moves such as occupying OUR Scarborough Shoal… resort to military might in order to dominate others…”
Reply: The first important point is Romualdez’s assertion of “OUR Scarborough Shoal,” a claim that even the U.S. rejects.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana rudely discovered this when he faced the Americans in November 2019 during talks for a U.S.-Philippine review of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).
Lorenzana narrated the discussion with the Americans: “To us, that is our territory, to you it’s not. So, there’s a disconnect between our interpretation of the MDT and yours… So that’s what I’m telling them that I want a review to clarify what is really covered by the MDT because for them Scarborough Shoal is not part of the metropolitan Philippines. For us, ever since the Spanish time, it’s part of our territory.”
Waxing philosophical Romualdez asks why China resorts to military might instead of economic might, but does he first ask why the U.S. surrounds China with 800 military bases? As the late American historian William Blum once wrote “… since 1945 the US has attempted to overthrow more than fifty governments, most of which were democratically elected…” now, the U.S. is attempting that regime change on China.
Babes Romualdez has burned his cover serving as agent for interests’ alien, and may even be subversive to the Philippines.
As extraordinary and plenipotentiary alter ego of Rodrigo Roa Duterte in the United States, Romualdez cannot venture to color in whatever direction his own President’s foreign policy declarations, whether for or against.
The President in his penultimate State-of-the-Nation address categorically said that his “government ‘works without fail’ in protecting Manila’s rights in the region through diplomatic means, ‘neither beholden nor a pawn to anyone’.”
In pursuance of his independent foreign policy, the President reiterated “We broaden the boundaries of Philippine diplomacy. We build productive ties with everyone willing to engage us on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and we redefined our relations with our most important partners, placing the country in a far better position to advance our interest in an evolving regional order and emerging global problems.”
In expressing his own personal views prejudicial to China, Romualdez has beholden himself and served as a pawn to any party against China. He did not only violate diplomatic protocol and narrow Philippine diplomatic options, but endangered our country’s best interests by spewing lies against a country of closest ties and a personal friend of the President.
Romualdez has compromised his own President in favor of the country of his posting. Even if it were the last possible thing he could do, he cannot bash China just as our ambassador to China Chito Santa Romana cannot say anything derogatory about the United States, or any country for that matter.
The ultimate point in diplomacy 101 is disavowal. In international conflict resolution, diplomats are taught to always allow a backdoor in case the exigency for face-saving becomes the final act to be performed.
This one is classic, no babe in the woods what Romualdez successfully achieved here instead is seal his exit. He now burns his cover to transition from trojan horse to fifth column, confident he could do away with his treason.
What he missed out thereby making a monumental faux pas, is that the venue of his unsolicited bias is a newspaper whose editorial policy is adversarial to China. The medium is owned by oligarch Manny Pangilinan, who serves as co-chairman of the Albert del Rosario Institute for Strategic and International Studies, which is the front of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies who is not just committed to the demonization of China in the world, but the think-tank that has masterminded regime change in the Philippines, specifically the ouster of President Duterte.
Albert del Rosario once was the trojan horse secretary of foreign affairs that cost the country dearly in economic losses due to diplomatic disruptions.
It is popular and common knowledge amongst veteran journalists that “Babes” Romualdez was for the longest time a paid PR professional under the employ of the U.S. Embassy, but must he still moonlight for the U.S. government now that he is ambassador? Is it justifiable for a public servant with a handsome compensation from Filipino taxpayers to continue his commentaries when his opinions can seriously affect the viability of his being an official representative of the country?
Can a diplomat with such conflict-of-interest and dubious allegiance, tainted geopolitical perspectives that run counter to the official policy of the government, serve reliably and dependably to represent the country’s interests?
National security and the Philippines’ independent foreign policy as mandated by the Philippines Constitution, the peace and nuclear free status of the ZOPFAN (Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality) of ASEAN as well as its Treaty on Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (TSANWFZ) – all these are at stake in our relations with the Americans who have been an interloper in the region for over 100 years.
If Babes wishes to challenge my assertions here, I can offer many neutral venues for a debate. But he must first resign so that he can rise up to my level.