For decades, it was undeniable that our relationship with Communist China had not only been deeply tangled and as intractable as a Gordian knot, but it had also been so spotted that judging it net positive or negative becomes a deeply debatable philosophical question.

Blurred in recent history by the emergence of China’s hegemonic and expansionist designs and intimidation primarily over the Western Philippine Sea (WPS), it has been further confused with the single-handed crafting of a essential foreign policy that rejected if not outright denied the story. Here is a military superpower that does not respect international courts, coupled with a small dim sum openly pleading and bowing down, enslaving subordinates and submitters.

The great debate and its deepest and widest chasm among arguments and burning passions on both sides is evident in the diametrically opposed positions taken against the virtual invasion, occupation, domination and control of our waters and of our exclusive economic zones. The only reason there is no widespread condemnation, where in its place there is relative apathy, is because the high seas are largely depopulated and the teeming public is occupied with visceral concerns immediate.

But the occupation is still very real. Remember the images of our small wooden fishing boats being rammed while moored in the dead of night by larger steel-hulled Chinese vessels. Imagine our helpless fishermen abandoned and left for dead in the deepest and darkest waters. Remember those whose hard-earned catch was seized, stolen, their water supply, poisoned with kerosene, their dignity scorned.

Who can forget an armada of over 200 armed Chinese ships gathering menacingly in our waters, blocking peaceful passage and livelihoods? Who can forget the serial threats from the Chinese that we could face dire consequences if we do not give up our rights to the precious gas and oil resources under Recto Bank? Who can forget how grading mat baggers surrendered to these threats? Remember the headlines announcing a summary shutdown for further exploration of the warnings from the Chinese.

Beyond the optics, allow us questions of deep illegalities. Who can forget the officials accused of bribery and bribery for negotiating our sovereignty in a way that exposes our precious resources to possible foreign control hidden through sheets and curtains of layered equity?

At the start of an outgoing administration that builds on a continuing legacy not only of recent precedents, but also of a precedent set half a century ago, have we not acquiesced in criminality by allowing our communities to be transformed into gambling havens illegal in China but legalized in our jurisdiction? To justify our lack of principle and courage, we have reduced the debate to a question of income generated – arguments typical of the justification of a prostitute for the oldest profession.

In politics as in prostitution, the pursuit of money trumps any moral consideration. Money buys anything. Even a democracy. Or a sovereign state. The Lauriate is endless. We saw it recently in the last election as we did in 2020 when the pandemic surged from China, unleashing one of the deadliest, most debilitating and impoverishing crises in modern history. Do you remember the Chinese nationals behind the Pharmaly scandal? Also remember our purchase of the most expensive but least effective made-in-China vaccine.

Keep in mind the pivot of foreign policy and its prospective perpetuity over the following decades following recent elections and the role played by a mainland troll army. The pivot’s diehard defenders argue that a different winner would otherwise have led to “subservience to the United States” and reversed gains with China. Calling China a pandemic “lifeline”, they say a different president would have “resurrected” belligerence, expressed “hostility” and effectively “boycotted” China.

Quoting the propaganda verbatim, “China would have slowly cut off its trade with the Philippines, triggering an economic disaster.”

Note the ignored history and do the math. Fil-Sino trade is only 1.3% of China’s total.

Trade is not what China’s long-term expansionist designs seek. It is the geopolitical, economic and military dominance of the free trade air and sea routes over the Western Philippine Sea. It is the exploitation of our vast marine, mineral and energy resources, both in active production and potentially explored.

Our US naval intelligence sources confirm that a hot war with the Philippines, let alone a nuclear war, is not necessary. To access the Strait of Malacca, not a single bullet needs to be fired except as a threat. Nobody wants a conflagration between the United States and China. Play the game of Go. For the Chinese, to dominate, all you have to do is buy a de facto puppet vassal.

Instead of a needless invasion or fire war to occupy and rule over 7,101 islands, all it takes is the wholesale purchase of an efficient vassal state, its serfdom and its subjugation traded and bought by ransoming its heads of state, its bureaucracy, its economic managers and its fellow captains of industry.

At the end of a short leash, inside a cheap canine collar worn by our officials could then be sewn a “Made in China” label.

(Dean dela Paz is a former investment banker and CEO of a New Jersey-based power company operating in the Philippines. He is chairman of the board of a renewable energy company and is a professor at the Business Policy, Finance and Mathematics Retreat. )

Warning: The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ABS-CBN Corp.

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