Trump’s SCS War is Approaching… Philippines should AVOID IT!
We are witnessing today the most powerful country in the world, the US, undergoing intense internal economic and social division, as well as unprecedented breaking of agreements with allies even while they are being forced to conform to unilateral US impositions of all kinds.
The pandemic in the US is still increasing at over 60 thousand infections and hundreds of deaths a day, 6 months after the beginning, with over 4.2 million infections, when many others have brought it under control in 2 to 3 months. The president considered it a sign of weakness to wear a mask, has finally started to wear one in June, 6 months after being advised to by all world health institutions, but still blaming everyone else.
Violence between races and classes broke out, and police unwarranted violence killing and injuring many, including non-violent civilians, even while the US accuses HK of excessive police violence, when no one there has been killed by police. At one point over 30 million were unemployed, but Wall Street reaching nearly record highs, with billionaires becoming richer.
Expecting to coast to re election, Trump is now faced with a 15 percent disadvantage in the polls to Biden. But the president is nothing if not a survivor, known for winning at all costs.
“Anybody but Trump” sentiment is growing, even in the Republican party. Some party stalwarts have organized “the Lincoln Project”, funding a massive campaign against him, “to prevent his reelection”. His lawyers have turned against him; his niece Mary Trump detailed Donald Trump’s family as “… liars, cheaters, abusers…” in “Too Much and Never Enough”. Peter Thiel, tech billionaire business backer has withdrawn support. George Will, an intellectual center of the conservatives, compared Trump to a “malignant buffoon”.
If his own country is so against his policies, why should Americans, Filipinos, take his administration’s pronouncements vs China as gospel truth? Trump and Pompeo are continually ratcheting up taunts, accusations and sanctions, even laws vs China, with very little real basis except that the world should trust the CIA, State Department, etc…without details.
Some of our PH politicians— per their lockstep actions with every new accusation of the US— really love the US more than the Americans, where only about a third now are in support of their own government. When the US passed laws protecting even violent protestors in Hongkong as long as they were against the government, some Philippine senators and “nationalists” also endorsed this. When US lawmakers tried to demand China pay for Covid, the same Philippine “experts” and senators did the same. Just as we let the US do our Scarborough negotiations with China “because they can do better”, we let Malaysia which supported the Mindanao rebellions do the negotiations for us even as they took over Sabah. Why don’t Justice Carpio or Senator Risa Hontiveros go after Sabah or Southwest Cay ?
The US a few days ago took away Hongkong’s “preferential status”, although the US exports to HK a surplus of 25 bln USD a year (it hardly hurts Hongkong). So the US is now thinking of financial attacks on HK currency or flows. Lately in what can be called a hostile act , the US demanded for the closure of the China consulate in Houston within 3 days, opened since 1979.
China meanwhile is still substantially meeting its commitments to the US, and calibrated in its responses. It reciprocated the US demand with the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu, and did not raise the rhetoric, just as it had settled the India border row with Modi without raising the heat further. While not expected to meet the target agriculture purchases from the US trade deal because of the pandemic, China has more than doubled the purchase of agricultural goods from last year, with corn and pork up 8 times, cotton up 3 times as of May 2020.
China has opened up the financial markets to majority foreign control, with initial approvals in process for Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs; with HSBC, UBS, Credit Suisse, Nomura already have majority control of their China units. Meanwhile, despite the trade war, US corporate investments in China grew again in 2019. Many companies have left, but many will keep operations there simply for logistic and market reasons. Companies like General Motors that sell more cars in China than in the US 3.1 million vs 2.9 million, or Apple selling tens of billions of dollars of phones, would naturally maintain part of their business there.
“The world is witnessing a desperate Trump trying to save his floundering reelection bid by demonizing China, to divert attention from his colossal failures in handling this pandemic crisis and economic struggles, attacking the CDC, the WHO, his own head of disease control Fauci, even former president Obama.” The Philippines and ASEAN should not fall for Trump playing the “Wag the Dog” gambit, i.e. creating a war just to gain patriotism votes , as detailed in a famous movie of the same title, opines Wilson Flores, entrepreneur and historian, organizer of Pandesal Forums.
Normally if one believed in the superiority of one’s system, one should let the systems work themselves out to their natural levels of achievement, competing on skill and innovation than on force. If harmony were desired, more interaction and mingling would be advantageous instead of closing consulates or limits. With the entry of the US and UK, Japanese battleships and French frigates into the area, and one sees a return to the colonial period of the powers that dismembered China where any “accident”, possibly deliberate ones, or incidents or miscommunications can happen. With the Philippines having no control of US warships crossing her territorial waters, and even the Philippine president is not allowed to inspect the US facilities, any objective analyst would say that that’s definitely putting oneself in the crossfire. Duterte’s advice of an independent foreign policy would seem to be the best position for the Philippines to benefit from the opportunities , rather than endanger the lives of countless Filipinos, like the million lost during World War 2.
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A similar version is published in ManilaTimes.