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Filipinos’ Openness for China Rising

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THE July 13 to July 19, 2021, PUBLIcus Asia survey of 1,500 respondents from a pool of 100,000 voters found that 53 percent of Filipinos are keeping an open mind, neither naming China as a foe nor a friend, but certainly showing openness to China’s goodwill towards the Philippines – a 180 degree turn in the mindset of Filipinos about China since 2015.

PUBLiCUS Asia reported that “Filipinos have held back their judgment in categorizing China as a clear friend or foe, taking 53 percent in China being a friend or enemy to the Philippines…” In light of the decades-long record of Filipino misgivings towards China, the result is a 100 percent contrast to almost all polls of previous years.

Since 2012 and over nearly a decade, all polls have shown the overwhelming majority of Filipinos as deeply distrustful of China and invariably perceiving it to be an enemy or foe.

In the 2015 June SWS survey of the Filipinos attitude towards China, for example, its 1,200 respondents gave China a minus 45 percent “record low” trust rating.

That 2015 poll result was even lower than the minus 36 percent result, after the April 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff between the China and the Philippines and during the 2014 Philippine filing of the arbitration case against China.

Throughout the period of misunderstanding between the Philippines and China, the latter firmly pursued a policy of dialogue and good will.

There was no lack of efforts from the self-defined “main competitor” to China, the U.S.A., to undermine the millennial goodwill and cooperation of China and the Philippines, a friendly and productive relationship that goes back at least 600 years before the arrival of the first Westerner in 1521 – Magellan.

Northern Song Dynasty coins circa 960 AD, have been found in the Philippines and early trade between the Philippines and China include Rajah Kiling’s mission from Butuan in 1000 AD. The mission to Emperor Yongle of Sultan Paduka Batara in 1417 popularized by the 1987 Vic Vargas movie “Hari sa Hari, Lahi sa Lahi” is another reminder.

The disruption of the friendly, even fraternal ties came only with the intrusion of the Age of Western Imperialism in the 1500s that wrought havoc to the whole of Asia.

Western Imperialism is now coming to an end with the Peaceful Rise of China and the East as a harmonious and most progressive economic and political bloc in the world.

No doubt China’s firm hand of friendship equally embraced by President Duterte are key to improving the Filipinos’ perception despite repeated fists from some US-linked political and media cliques.

China’s $ 25-billions of grants, infra investments and loans, and the all-important “vaccine humanitarianism” generosity paved the road.

But crucial individuals helped the nation and President Rodrigo R. Duterte overcome the misunderstandings planted by malicious elements along the way, and now that the road ahead is clearing there is a moment to remember and express appreciation for the sacrifice and support of the critical contributions of the people that helped.

Last September 10, 2021 the Association for Philippine-China Understanding (APCU) together with the Chinese Embassy held the First Awards for the Promotion of Philippines – China Understanding (APPCU) naming 10 awardees:

First Lady Imelda R. Marcos; Amb. Francis Chua; Dr. Lourdes Tanhueco-Nepomuceno; Prof. Jaime Florcruz; Adolfo Paglinawan; Dr. and Atty. Mario Leonardo Emilio Aportadera;

John Fernandez; Teresita Ang-See; Prof. Rommel Banlaoi; and yours truly. During the awarding each awardee was asked for a one-minute speech. This was my speech:

“The Philippines, geo-strategically located as the Pacific entrance from the West to the East, has been the gateway for the 20th Century Western powers bringing conflict to Asia.

“Today as some Western powers seek to contain the peacefully rising East, the Philippines stands as the fulcrum.

“Thankfully, the Filipino people chose President Rodrigo R. Duterte to lead, who has steered the country and the region towards harmony and global peace.

“Let me recall a special group of Filipino diplomats who crucially supported the facts behind Filipino-China issues, such as retired Ambassadors Rosario Manalo, Albert Encomienda and the late Ambassador Rey Arcilla.

“Also, special group of journalists and writers, businessmen, retired military officers, social media activists, who worked for truth despite the brickbats – members of the Philippine-BRICS Strategic Studies think tank group.

“Lastly, my wife Teresa Dula-Laurel who for a decade hosted the lunches for brainstorming sessions over information strategies to win the future for peace and prosperity – for the Philippines, Asia and the World.”

(Samahan si Ka Mentong Laurel at mga panauhin sa “Power Thinks” tuwing Miyerkules @6pm Live Global Talk News Radio (GTNR) sa Facebook at sa Talk News TV sa You Tube; at tuwing Linggo 8 to 10am sa RP1 738khz AM sa radyo.)

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