My title paraphrases the famous author of “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap?” released in May 30, 2017 and becoming a globally celebrated book.
Graham Allison’s article appeared in The National Interest last October 15, 2020, the American bimonthly conservative international affairs magazine published by the Center for the National Interest, a public policy think tank established by the late U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1994 under the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom.
The National Interest is one of the top go-to sources for American hegemonic and rightwing thinkers, policy-makers and politicians, hence its significance. Titled, “China Is Now the World’s Largest Economy. We Shouldn’t Be Shocked,” the abstract just below the title goes shockingly thus:
“China has now displaced the U.S. to become the largest economy in the world. Measured by the more refined yardstick that both the IMF and CIA now judge to be the single best metric for comparing national economies, the IMF Report shows that China’s economy is one-sixth larger than America’s ($24.2 trillion versus the U.S.’s $20.8 trillion).
“Why can’t we admit reality? What does this mean?”
China has actually been the largest economy in the world as far back as 2014 but the Western economists and media have been insisting on using the MER (market exchange rates) to calculate GDP using the US economy and its Dollar as the baseline, but now they have also accepted the PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) based on how much each nation can buy with its own currency compared to others.
What the Chinese pay for a McDonald’s burger in China can get two in the US, hence its GDP must be multiplied by 2 versus the U.S.
“So what?” if the Chinese economy is now bigger than the U.S. economy, Graham Alison rhetorically asks and replies, “… China… has become the manufacturing workshop of the world… Thanks to double-digit growth in its defense budget, its military forces have steadily shifted the seesaw of potential regional conflicts, in particular over Taiwan. And in this year, China will surpass the U.S. in R&D spending, leading the U.S. to a ‘tipping point in R&D’ and future competitiveness.”
In other words, the U.S. is in an inevitable trajectory of decline while China’s ascendance will continue as projected. Allison concludes, “For the US to meet the China Challenge, Americans must wake up to the ugly fact: China has already passed us… Moreover, in 2020, China will be the only major economy that records positive growth. … The consequences for American security are not difficult to predict…”
Many others like myself or the prescient historian-writer Martin Jacques who wrote the feted book “When China Rules the World,” published 2009 when China’s economic achievement was no that well known yet, had already known for quite some time that China would be No. 1, I therefore also asks – “Why they can’t seem to accept the reality?”
By “they,” since I am writing this in the Philippine setting, I mean the stragglers of the bigoted anti-China campaigns such as Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Dick Gordon (two of the most recent China-bashers), and of course, former DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario, ex-SC Justice Antonio Carpio, Amboy hacks Babes Romualdez, Richard Heydarian, Jay Batongbacal, et al.
In her eagerness to project the China ‘menace’ and its ‘hordes’ “who have entered the country since 2017,” Hontiveros forgets, maybe deliberately, to look into the nature of the Chinese arrivals. If she does, then she’ll see that in 2017, 968,447 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines, in 2018 1.2-million Chinese tourists arrived, and in 2019 1.8-million Chinese tourists enjoyed their tours of the Philippines. That makes exactly for 4-million.
If Hontiveros could add up all those Chinese tourists and their spending of billions of US Dollars that fueled the Philippine national economy to the pre-pandemic growth highs that have been recorded, then she would learn to shut up and spend more time studying in detail the true story behind the statistics she half-read and half-imagined with ghosts and ghouls.
Sen. Dick Gordon on the other hand raised a spectacle over 27,000 Chinese beneficiaries of the government’s Philippine Retirement Authorities (PRA) program granting permanent residency in the Philippines to applicants of all nationalities so long as they pass the qualifications, including the minimum age of 35years which has made the Philippine retirement program one of the major successes internationally, and $800.00 to $1,500.00 monthly pension and deposits ranging from $10,000.00 to $50,000.00.
Now, we have to note what the PRA said of the 35 years old retirement age minimum duringthe senate hearing, “The reason for the 35 years of age is in Korea, the military would retire at the age of 35, and these are retirees who would avail of this program.” So, it is the South Koreans and not the Chinese retirees that the minimum age requirement was set for, a fact that Gordon totally omits in his irrational rant.
Reviewing the PRA performance over the decades through its annual reports, it is clear the GOCC has earned the government billions of pesos. A major part of this earnings come from two major nationalities, Chinese with 27,678 and Koreans with 14,144. The Philippines set one of the lowest retirement ages for qualifying, 35 years old and its is the Koreans who avails of this as 35 is the retirement age of the Korean military and many apply for retirement in the Philippines.
The 14,144 retiree Koreans is lopsided when compared to the 27,678 Chinese beneficiaries as China’s population is 28 times that of South Korea, so Gordon is way off the mark in his protestations. As for the paranoia these senators express about possible POGO workers taking advantage of the PRA programs, the Chinese POGO workers wouldn’t be able to afford those tens of thousands of US dollar deposits.
Besides, Chinese POGO operations are staring the exodus out of the Philippines which has treated them so shabbily, leaving behind thousands of Filipinos now jobless and hundreds of thousands of square meters of office condominium floors empty. The potential Filipino job losses after the end of the POGO exodus is 31,000 jobs. I have heard that some Central European countries are the new preferred sites of the POGO. Thanks to the Filipino “ultra-patriots,” more Filipinos will be jobless at the time the jobs are needed most.
This inability of the likes of Hontiveros and Gordon to accept the reality that China is already essential for the Philippines’ economic recovery and growth from hereon and into the rest of the century could be disastrous for the Philippines if they continue their damaging, anti-diluvian, erroneous, misguided Sinophobia and anti-China-ism mindsets.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte has put the Philippines on the right track with China’s one-way train journey on its Belt and Road Initiative to “Destination Progress and Prosperity,” as the rest of the world is.
One particularly meaningful line from Graham Allison’s article is this: “Over the past generation, as China has created the largest economy in the world, it has displaced the U.S. as the largest trading partner of nearly every major nation (just last year adding Germany to that list).”
As parting words for these bigoted Senators I ask, “What jobs have you generated for Filipinos in the past years that you have been paid monthly millions to sit on your asses in the Senate halls? None. It has always been the executive branch and its program for jobs generation planned and proposed by career civil service professionals.
These “Comelected” senators are part of the problems that plague our governmental system and render its functioning inutile.
When Hontinveros, Gordon and the Inquirer et al started this hullabaloo about nothing over the deliberately mis-tagged” 4-million Chinese arrivals” and the erroneously blamed Chinese retirees it was October 19, its now almost 2 weeks later yet the Inquirer and other mainstream newspapers are still regurgitating the misinformation into unmitigated disinformation switching names to Sen. Kiko Pangilinan and citing a US Navy Pacific Fleet ex-Intel chief Capt. Jim Fanell calling it a “soft invasion”.
Damn the Inquirer, there are 130-million Chinese tourists visting hundreds of countries all over the world, including the U.S., is this “soft invasion”? And they all retunn home to China after a week or two of rest and recreation in the foreign lands like the Philippines.
We should be glad for the “soft invasion” for it brought into the Philippine economy $ 2.3-billion in 2019. So damn again these malicious, malevolent, malingering senators and Philippine mainstream media doing their every bit to sabotage the growth and prosperity of the Philippines.
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